Sciterion – one of Havas’s medical education agencies – has had major success in the last few months. They published a new blog by Gabi Cutayar, MD of Sciterion – and won two Communique awards for their events this year. We spoke to Gabi to hear more about her career path and Sciterion as a whole.
Can you give us a bit of background on your career and how you ended up in the medical education field?
I’ve always had a leaning towards the sciences – although I could never get my head around physics!
A career guidance counsellor in my impressionable teenage years told me I would be good at communications. Of course, I knew better then and thought nah… science is what I’m going to do.
From studying pharmacy in South Africa, I moved on to retail for my internship. After receiving my Honours degree, I went straight into a regulatory role at Baxter Travenol followed by a move into pharma sales (which I hated) and then into brand management for Wyeth. It was here my entrepreneurial spirit took hold, and I toyed with doing a company sponsored MBA or going directly into my own business with a clothing franchise. Being young and headstrong, I chose the latter! Two years later, I walked away, having learnt that retail is tough – and I sought my safety blanket back in pharma, this time in brand management for AstraZeneca. But the entrepreneurial bug had well and truly bitten and not 3 years later, I was in my own business again, this time with a business partner – where I could make use of my pharma degree, marketing diploma and PR certification in medical communications!
Twelve years later, after having grown the business with a focus on events and event logistics, and being the preferred partner for the annual, sub-Saharan Microsoft technology event for over 10 years, I sold the business and moved back to the UK.
And here I am years later, working in the field of science and medicine which I love, combined with communications!
Can you tell us more about Sciterion and the organisation’s philosophy?
I’m in an extremely fortunate position to have this level of influence and I never forget the immense responsibility which comes with this role. Sciterion is a relatively young business which needs care, nurture, structure and vision to grow and flourish. We are about people in every way – those who work at Sciterion and those whose quality of life we strive daily to improve – the patients. I’ll never forget the first time I worked in Multiple Sclerosis, for instance – it really hit me hard, and I feel deeply for all the people who suffer from this disease.
As medical communication specialists, we have a unique role to play and keep that top of mind in everything we do. Instilling this Human Purpose into our projects means that they resonate on a unique level with HCPs and effect that all important evolution in patient management. Hence our guiding principle – ‘Science that speaks to people’.
Sciterion has huge ambitions, and we acknowledge that in order to achieve these, we need to recognise, nurture and support each individual employee’s ambitions. Our Multiply Success initiative, launched in 2022, is all about empowering successful partnerships between individuals and the business. Where one grows, so does the other. We don’t paint everyone with the same brush. Each individual is encouraged to explore their potential within the business and follow their dreams. We all have a key part to play in Sciterion’s success as well as our own.
We embrace change, we hunt for innovation to continuously bolster our offerings, we are kind to each other, and strive to be the best we can be as a business and as individuals.
Can you talk about the awards your organisation recently received?
Our strength in Scientific Meetings and Events is consistently acknowledged by our industry peers.
The Communiqué Awards and the PMEA are enormously important for us because our work goes up against the best in the business. To have other agencies within our field vote our work as amongst the best is both gratifying and humbling – they know their stuff.
The fact that we have won at Communiqué for the past 5 years in a row – except 2020, when it was cancelled due to Covid – is a feather we wear in our cap with pride!
Our wins are mainly within the area of meetings and events, both global and regional/local. The focus is high science focused on medical education and applicability within clinical practice. Content is king, but it is also important to convey the content in innovative ways that not only engage but ensure the message endures and the learning translates into optimal patient care.
Why is external recognition important to the work you do?
You cannot beat the looks on the faces of the team when Sciterion’s name is called at an Awards evening… people want to know that their work matters, and that it makes a difference.
Medical education is much more than simply relaying scientific data, it is about truly engaging with healthcare professionals so that information resonates with them as human beings. That is why scientific storytelling is at the heart of everything we do, allowing us to bring data to life and showing how it can impact and improve clinical practice. Ultimately, evidence-based medical education can translate into real, and often life-changing, improvements for people.
The win engenders tremendous satisfaction and fulfilment for team members and makes the hard work all worthwhile. Winning prestigious awards such as these is external endorsement that we are making a difference.
What’s next for Sciterion?
It can be summed up by the malapropism delivered by Arthur Daley in an English comedy drama – The ‘World Is Our Lobster’! Opportunity abounds for Sciterion, and we are well-placed to grab each one with all hands.
We want to do more of what we do – facilitating scientific exchange for the ultimate benefit of the patient. We’re embracing and pioneering new ways to deliver science so that learning is a meaningful experience which delights and inspires; enabling HCP-patient dialogue that fulfils the HCP’s desire to help, support and improve patient quality of life; and empowering each patient and those that care for them to feel more in control of their life’s journey.
Ultimately, it has to be about delivering science that translates into improved outcomes in clinical practice. It’s a subtle but phenomenally powerful nuance – directing pharma’s extensive resources more overtly into the betterment of patient care; sharing the science in ways that are easily translatable into clinical practice – therein lies the differentiator.
I love my job!