JP takes coffee and cake with the publishers of Pf Magazine, as Events4Healthcare (E4H) celebrates its 10th anniversary.
I’m quite familiar with the husband and wife partnership, Melanie and Karl Hamer, that have successfully run the medical education company E4H for 10 years. After a decade of considerable change – during which time they have become the publishers of Pf Magazine – now seems a good time to reflect.
What are you up to at the moment?
Melanie: Many people are still enjoying the afterglow of the recent Pf Awards Dinner, but I’m already working on the Pf Awards for 2018 and 2019.
Karl: Typically, we develop programmes that raise awareness and confidence in therapy areas. My focus at the moment is on an Atrial Fibrillation partnership programme with Public Health England, NICE and the Academic Health Science Network. It’s a great project, with pharmaceutical company involvement, and will be rolled out later in the year. This is a great example of how we work in partnership across industry and the NHS.
What are your reflections on Pf Awards 2017?
Melanie: I’m glad we took the decision to change the assessment process – making it tougher. Although it was tough it received very positive feedback as candidates felt they were really challenged. There were more individuals and companies entering, and attendees at the dinner, than ever before and that’s testament to how the awards are perceived. People who reached the Assessment Day should be very proud – it’s a real recognition of excellence. It’s also been great catching up with previous winners in the magazine, who consider winning an award as a turning point in their career.
How has your first year as owners of Pf Magazine been?
Karl: It’s been exciting and challenging. We purchased the magazine as it is the ideal platform to keep the industry updated with knowledge, opinion, NHS updates and what each other is up to. We saw it as a blank canvas and initially met a number of people in industry to get advice on what they needed from a publication that represented their industry.
Melanie: We embarked on a radical rebrand – embracing new audiences, changing the look and feel of the magazine and altering the direction of content. It is now more analytical and opinion-leading, taking on the issues of the day. Also, finding talented people and taking the magazine, and its associated products, forward, has been tremendously exciting.
Why did you start E4H?
Karl: We are both from a pharmaceutical background and observed a gap in the market. We understood the needs of the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS, therefore we were well placed to use our knowledge to support them by being the link to bring them together.
Melanie: Within six months of starting E4H the demand for new projects was so great that Karl came on board bringing with him his network of NHS and clinical experts.
How has the business evolved?
Melanie: As the business has grown so has our expertise in many more therapy areas. In addition, we have fully embraced the digital era and how healthcare professionals want to consume their education. We have invested in digital platforms, making sure we remain at the forefront of educational advances.
Karl: In the beginning clients would present specific briefs. Now we are engaged earlier
in projects, and clients utilise our expertise by telling us what their objectives are. We then jointly develop solutions tailored to their needs and those of their customers.
How has digital impacted on your overall offerings?
Karl: The advancement in our digital capability allows us to bring together clinicians and experts in a virtual environment to form webinars, advisory boards, e-learning programmes and forums. Our investment in developing an active network of over 14,000 healthcare professionals has really supported this activity and provides some of our clients with a great opportunity to connect directly with their audience.
Melanie: Although this year we celebrate our 10th anniversary, in some ways we feel like a start-up again; we have acquired a production, technology and creative side to our business in the last two years, meaning we can deliver an end-to-end solution for our clients, which is really exciting.
What have been your most rewarding projects?
Melanie: For me it has to be the Pf Awards – they are my third child and I’m passionate about them! We’ve had to move with the industry and the categories have changed – 17 years ago I didn’t even know what e-detailing was. I am motivated by making sure the Pf Awards are always relevant.
Karl: It feels great when customers present us with a challenge, and by working together we develop a solution with real outcomes. There is nothing more rewarding than a client saying “that was fantastic – it will make a difference to how patients are treated”.
Was it always your intention have a career in pharma/healthcare?
Melanie: Initially, I was a dental nurse, but then responded to an advert in the paper and enjoyed a career in pharmaceutical sales, training and management with GSK, Astra and Sanofi. When I was ‘carrying the bag’, we didn’t have mobile phones, but interacting with people was the same, and that gave me a great foundation for understanding customer needs.
Karl: My background was in accountancy, before moving into sales, marketing and strategic operations. I moved into pharma after a friend’s recommendation and the promise of a company car. I thought I’d do that for 12 months, but remained at AstraZeneca for 15 years!
How did you first meet?
Melanie: We met on a presentation skills course at Astra.
Karl: Mel was impressed with my flipchart skills.
What is the key to working successfully as husband and wife?
Karl: We talked to another husband and wife partnership – Judy and Chris Philips from CHASE – and they gave us invaluable advice about understanding each other’s strengths. That has always stuck with us – we have defined roles and don’t overlap. When you are husband and wife, you trust each other implicitly; there is no better basis for a personal relationship and that also applies to business. E4H is a family business made up of a small team but with huge capability for impact. We feel really lucky to work with some truly talented people on a daily basis.
What record would you choose for the soundtrack of your life?
Melanie: Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling.
Karl: Anyone who has worked with me knows I sing a lot, and mostly out of tune. As a family, we love musical theatre and this week I have been singing numbers from ‘Hamilton’.
It’s your last supper, what are you having?
Melanie: We lived in Leicester for seven years – it would have to be Karl’s homemade curry followed by a slice of our 10th anniversary cake.
Sounds delicious. Goodbye.