As it originally appeared on Schwartz Communication’s PRx Blog:
Name: David Freeman
Company: Freeman & Associates Consulting
My first job in healthcare was: My first job in healthcare was as a PR Specialist and Tradeshow Manager at HP Medical, in the headquarters operation. I was 26 years old and I remember the feeling of awe when I first came to the company for an interview (the first of 9 interviews). HP was famous at the time for its open workplace environment (read low cubicles). As I rounded a corner I looked across a huge expanse of desks and people and computers on every desk!
It was a great start in healthcare because I had the opportunity to learn about HP’s entire portfolio as well as travel to conferences like the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, where I got to interact with clinicians, sales reps and marketing professionals from around the world.
What I like most about working in healthcare is: It’s of course trite to say that I work in healthcare to make a difference. And that the industry attracts good, smart and caring people. All true. But working in an office, caught up in conference calls and cross-functional meetings, a challenging regulatory environment, demanding quality system requirements, it can be easy to forget why I feel so passionate about being in healthcare.
However healthcare has a way of stripping the business veneer away and reminding you of what’s at stake and how you make a difference in a way that I imagine few industries can. Every time I visit a hospital on business, suit and tie, folio in hand, there’s a moment when the environment breaks through and I realize that I’m surrounded by people in crisis and that I’m connected to assessing and preserving health.
I was a pediatrics product manager when the first Iraq war broke out. We were racing to develop a pediatric transesophageal ultrasound imaging transducer. The miniaturization of the electronics was pushing state of the art at the time but my clinical trial sites at children’s hospital in the U.S. and U.K. had conveyed how important this innovation would be to assess surgical repair of congenital heart defects from behind the heart, out of the sterile field, after the repair but before the chest was closed.
The European OEM firm we were working with to develop the transducer had a sister division that got caught up in the night-vision scandal and the State Department put the entire company on hold for business with the U.S. Six months in on a scheduled nine month project we scrambled to find an alternate firm to work with to restart our effort. Our schedules slipped and while we kept our clinical trial sites informed, one day the head of Pediatric Echocardiography from the largest of the U.S. children’s hospitals reached me by phone at my desk. He proceeded to tell me about a patient they had lost on the table the day before and that the transducer might have saved the patient’s life. He was upset and emotional and asked me what was taking us so long.
Similarly, I was involved with Schwartz to build awareness of sudden cardiac arrest from the early days when every new airline placing AEDs on board was still news. At each turn, as we worked with corporations, public places, schools and home users, the calls would come in…hi, my name is (pick a name)…and I’m just calling to thank you because my (husband, father, daughter…) was saved by your device.
It’s that vital connection to people, to saving and preserving lives, that keeps me loving this industry.
When I’m not working, I like to: We have four kids and I love spending time with them. Other interests include music (jazz and chill), taking nature photographs, writing poetry, and keeping up with the world and technology.
Who had the biggest influence on your career?: A woman named Cynthia Danaher, who was at HP, has been the most influential person on my career. She heard me interacting with customers on the trade show floor (when I was in my first healthcare job) and recruited me to work in the ultrasound business. She demonstrated a mix of three qualities as a manager that I admire to this day: (1) The ability to personally connect with people, (2) Passion for advancing the business, and (3) Intellectual rigor of the work she did and asked of her team. I learned an enormous amount from Cynthia and HP about management, marketing excellence, and corporate ethics.
People would be most surprised to learn that I: Went to a canoe/survival camp when I was 15 years old in Northern Canada where I learned to portage wood canvas canoes for up to five miles and survived 5 days in the woods with nothing but a match and a knife.
If I wasn’t in healthcare, I would probably be: If I wasn’t in healthcare I would probably be an unknown writer.
Tags: David Freeman, healthcare, healthcare PR, medical device PR, public relations agency, Schwartz CommunicationsPosted by Jayme Maniatis on December 7, 2010 at 12:31 PM
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