Work that feels good: How pharma changed how I think about advertising.

Once upon a time, I was a storyboard artist at a famous consumer advertising agency. It was a challenging, often exciting, environment, and I was forced to grow rapidly to meet the demands of clients and colleagues. I turned myself into a creative sponge during those years—listening, learning, and refining my visual eye, project by project. But, despite the personal strides I was making, the products we marketed just didn’t inspire me, and I found myself casting about for something more meaningful.

A change was in order, and I found it in pharma. At first, I was skeptical. I wanted to feel good about the work I was producing, but pharmaceutical advertising had a spotty ethical profile and a reputation for cautious, conformist clients. Then I met the patients . During a video production for a cancer treatment device, I was able to get to know the people who actually depended on our product to live. They were sincerely grateful for the work we were doing and eager to tell the world how our product had impacted their lives. That’s when it hit me. My art direction had produced more than slick visuals. It had helped real people find their way to the treatment they needed. I was playing a small part in changing lives for the better.

Now, whether I’m pitching a campaign to a prospective client or putting the finishing touches on a TV ad, I keep the patient at the center of everything I do. It’s the fuel for my creative drive, and the reason I show up every morning to do the work that I love.