Leaving the Pharm…Heading to the Big City

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Dear Friends,

After almost 6+ years on the “inside” of the pharmaceutical industry, I will be stepping off the reservation… Well, not TOTALLY off the Pharm completely, but I will be moving out from being on the “client side” to being on the “agency side”. This work-week — ending Friday the 13th :-) — will mark my last week in the office as a Vertex employee.

While it is with bitter-sweet emotions that I am leaving Vertex, it is with great pleasure and much excitement that I can announce that I will be joining the health practice at Edelman as VP of Digital Health, where I will be reporting into Bruce Hayes (General Manager of the NY Health Practice) and joining my friend, Gigi Peterkin (formerly from AZ), to head up and build out the digital health offerings in the NYC office.

Many of you will probably be familiar with Edelman, either by their reputation alone, their well respected digital thought leaders (like Dave Armano and Steve Rubel), and/or by their well regarded Edelman Trust Barometer and Edelman Health Engagement Barometer studies.

Leaving Vertex…
I’m sure many of you are wondering why I’m leaving Vertex, especially at a time like this; where the company is at the brink of commercializing and poised to become a great full-fledged pharmaceutical, with a new product (pending FDA approval) and pipeline to boot.

So, let me first put aside any thoughts in your mind that I am leaving because I have any doubts or negative feelings towards Vertex. In fact, it’s quite the opposite — I have a HUGE amount of respect and adoration for the company, the people, and the product(s).

I really admire and laud the Vertex senior leadership for the approach/mindset they’ve taken towards building this company. I’m a big fan of the culture and the patient-first mentality that pervades even the commercial (sales and marketing) teams. And I absolutely love the fact that at almost every major (internal) meeting, we are reminded of the George Merck creed: “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people…“. If there’s anything I learned more about during my time at Vertex, it is the importance of always trying to serve the patients’ needs and how to try to put them first, even within a commercial setting.

On top of all that, I’ve gained a lot of experience in building a digital infrastructure and strategy in preparation for commercialization and I’m also very proud of my recent (digital/social) accomplishments, including the launch of the corporate Twitter account and the (digital) hepatitis C disease education campaign, which includes a YouTube Channel and a Slideshare page.

Bright Lights, Big City
Having said all that, sometimes an opportunity comes along where the timing is right and you know deep inside that it’s worth changing your whole world for… including a big move from Boston to NYC. So, while I was able to rollout some cool and interesting digital initiatives during my time at Vertex, my new role at Edelman will allow me serve the industry in a greater capacity and spread my wings more broadly by challenging me to think across multiple audiences, diseases, and brands/clients. It will also give me the opportunity to use my knowledge and experience to help other healthcare and pharma companies implement/execute innovative digital and social media. Additionally, I will be involved with internal education, client strategy and development, and overall thought leadership in healthcare and social media (HCSM).

I am also looking forward to the opportunity of working alongside and tapping into the Edelman “brain-trust” of people that I have come to know and respect in the digital and health community, including my friends: David Armano, Emily Downward, and of course, Gigi Peterkin.

Moreover, as many of you know, I am passionate about the use of digital/social media within HCSM and, as such, I’ve been heavily involved in various activities that resonate with this passion, including: my Med 2.0 Blog, SocialPharmer.com, SXSH.org (Social Health), and PharmFresh.TV. Hence, the opportunity to continue to embrace these activities — together with various industry engagements (e.g. speaking events) — at a greater level, while bringing more value to the organization that I work for, is something that I am very excited about.

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Amidst all this excitement about the job and the big move to NYC, I also realize that I will very much miss many of my good friends that I’m leaving behind in Vertex and the Boston area, as well as the whole Boston social media scene overall. However, it comforts me to know that NYC isn’t really that far away and many people travel through NYC at some point, so I’m hoping to still see everyone quite regularly.

Finally, aside from the sticker shock that I’m getting from NYC property prices, I think the biggest challenge that I will have to overcome with this move is how difficult it will be for me to continue to be a Boston sports-fan in NYC… Go B’s, Go C’s, Go Pats, and Go Sox!!! I love that dirty water… :-)

22 Responses to “Leaving the Pharm…Heading to the Big City”

  1. Susannah Fox Says:

    Congratulations!! NYC is one big step closer to DC and I’m hoping that your work with Edelman will require many more trips here. So psyched for you and for the Edelman team. Everybody in your circle just got smarter thanks to this move.

  2. shwen Says:

    Thanks, Susannah — you are too kind with your words… I think my toes are blushing :-) It’s a very exciting move for me and ya know that being closer to DC and you was a big part of the consideration :-) !

  3. Meredith Gould Says:

    What Susannah said, so keep those toes blushing! Now you can easily take the train down to Baltimore (where you’ll find a bunch of your colleagues) and DC (where you’ll find even more). But do NOT think of showing up for meetings, HealthCamp or anything else without current baby pics. Big Congratulations.

  4. Alicia Staley Says:

    Fantastic! Congratulations to you. This is so exciting!!

  5. Andre Blackman Says:

    Congratulations my friend! Your passion, excitement, knowledge and overall great attitude will make you an excellent addition to the team at Edelman. I know I am really happy for you and looking forward to seeing what you are involved in.

  6. 10 People to Follow in Social Media + Health Says:

    [...] @shwen – Shwen Gwee, “Founder: Social Health (sxsh.org), Social Pharmer (SocialPharmer.com), Med 2.0 Blog (Med20.com)” As knowledgeable about this space as he is a nice guy to chat to. Had the chance to meet him at the 2010 ePatient Connections conference. Update (05/12/11): Shwen is joining the health practice at Edelman as VP of Digital Health. [...]

  7. Ken Burbary Says:

    Congratulations Shwen! This is exciting news and it couldn’t be happening to a better guy. Wishing you all the best in your new role @ Edelman!

  8. Shwen Gwee Joining Edelman | Edelman Australia Blog Says:

    [...] about Shwen’s perspective on joining Edelman and how he views his future in Digital [...]

  9. Marc Monseau Says:

    Awesome news, Shwen!

  10. Michelle Petersen Says:

    Well done on the new post Shwen. It’s not just the fact you are technically a brilliant social medium marketer, you gain the extra 100 miles from your love of conversing and interacting with people and this is why you are in my books, one of the best…

  11. shwen Says:

    @MeredithGould: Thank you so much – consider my toes blushed. Will def update some LittleG pics soon :-)

  12. shwen Says:

    TY, Alicia! It is very exciting indeed. And I’m so glad you got to be a part of what I was doing at Vertex as well :-)

  13. shwen Says:

    @Andre TY so much for those extremely nice words. I am honored to be joining such an esteemed organization and looking forward to contributing more to the industry from a different perspective.

  14. shwen Says:

    @Ken: Thanks for the warm wishes! It is very exciting indeed – I appreciate your support!

  15. shwen Says:

    @Marc: Thanks, bud… And thanks for being there as a friend, an advisor, and a mentor. I’m so glad for you as well… Really looking forward to what the future has in store for us. BTW, now that you’ve commented, how about a blog post ;-) ! Viva la PharmFresh.TV and Med 2.0.

  16. Arnie Friede Says:

    Congratulations, Shwen. Would like to connect with you when you are in here in New York and have some time to catch up.

    Arnie Friede
    212 585-0411

  17. Steve Etzler Says:

    Congrats Shwen! NYC welcomes you. We at BDI look forward to seeing you more often.

  18. judy baldwin Says:

    I am so glad for you and Em but sorry you are leaving the area. It sounds like a great opportunity for you- now go rock NYC!

  19. Brenda Varney Says:

    What an awesome opportunity for you! For the years that I have known you, digital and social media have clearly fascinated you. Best wishes for much success and I look forward to following your career!


  20. René van den Bos Says:

    HI Shwen, congratulations my friend. This is great news and a fantastic opportunity. And NYC is such a vibrant city. I’m planning to spend a weekend later this year, so an opportunity lies ahead. But hopefully we meet before then. E2.0 in Boston?

  21. Twitter @medmarketingcoe Says:

    I’m sure you’ll do great things Shwen. I hear your pain about giving up the car :)

  22. Eric Glazer Says:

    Congrats Shwen …I am sure you will take Edelman to another level …working in NYC is an experience everyone should have …enjoy it …it is thee “City” …but dont forget your roots …go Sox!

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