Global Scholar Program: Cultural Differences in Healthcare Marketing

October 3, 2013

mariaThe idea of winning a Ketchum Global Scholarship for me was synonymous with winning a lottery – it seemed to be impossible. I assumed that all employees all over the world would submit their applications and I was definitely not a likely candidate to be chosen – I am not a senior position and my work experience is not that seasoned. Hence my surprise when I found out that I was among those lucky 20 people selected to be first Global Scholars in Ketchum and, moreover, I was honored to have the opportunity to go to Ketchum’s headquarters in New York!

When I found myself in New York, I totally fell in love with both the city and with my host office. What surprised me was that despite both the physical distance between New York and Moscow and the significant cultural differences, the office spirit had so much in common with Ketchum Maslov that I soon felt right at home.

Concerning my professional experience, I was to work in the Healthcare practice both to learn about the healthcare system in the U.S. and to bring some knowledge about the way things are organized in Russia. On the one hand, we discovered huge differences in healthcare communications in Russia versus the United States but on the other hand, we were able to uncover some common ideas and strategies.

For example, in Russia there are no strong regulations in healthcare communication as compared to the U.S. system – we don’t need to approve our press materials with FDA. My New York healthcare colleagues were definitely a little bit jealous about that! But the takeaway for the Moscow team is that we should be even more responsible than our American counterparts about the materials we develop to maintain the global standards of healthcare communications in Russia.

It was also very exciting and helpful to meet colleagues from other practices. They markedly broadened my mind and helped me realize I could offer my clients more interesting, topical and creative tools. Colleagues from digital, food & wellness, corporate practices, issues & crisis, creative and other teams showed me a more holistic view of Ketchum’s varied expertise.

But the most important takeaway for me was meeting people in person. As we all know, sometimes day-to-day client work makes us think there is no room for creativity or there is no need for others’ help. Moreover, from time to time, the big Ketchum network feels virtual. But people in New York made me feel differently. Global Ketchum is a big, lovely, professional team full of expertise and eager to help in every situation. If we make a little effort to tap into our international network, I’m confident we’ll get exciting and even unexpected results.