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Julia Walker, Astrazeneca


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-06-01-2009
Volume 0
Issue 0

I started out as a cardiovascular primary care sales rep with Merck in the UK.

Julia Walker

Senior Director, Brand Corporate Affairs, AstraZeneca

I started out as a cardiovascular primary care sales rep with Merck in the UK. During that time, the results of the landmark 4S study [Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study] made major news on front pages and broadcast outlets around the world. That was my first real taste for what public relations could do and what it was all about. My agency experience really afforded me the best opportunity to get to know our key stakeholder: the media.

I'm most proud of the work I've done on our cholesterol-lowering, atherosclerosis-slowing statin, Crestor. Specifically, the work done by our brand corporate affairs team was a key reason AstraZeneca was able to shift its communications strategy from one of a defensive posture to a more proactive, results-oriented approach. Ultimately, transparent communication of the scientific data for Crestor helped prove the various allegations being made were indeed misleading and inaccurate. Now, thanks to a well-coordinated awareness and education effort, Crestor is helping millions of patients lower their cardiovascular risk, and is the only branded statin that continues to gain market share.

All leaders, at some point in their professional (and probably personal) lives, have operated under the philosophy of "if you want it done right, do it yourself." I'm certainly no exception to that rule. Avoidance of micromanaging is the hardest part of the transition from being a doer to being a manager. The team I've helped build and the agency partners in which I've put my trust have made it easier for me to let go. Still, that doesn't just happen at the drop of a hat. It takes a great deal of work to nurture and mentor a team to be ready to take on roles and responsibilities that you would otherwise handle yourself.

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