Looking back at the Mackay Award - Hanover Communications


30 Sep 2019

In 2018, we launched the Mackay Award, a six-month development programme designed to nurture the next generation of healthcare communications professionals, offering them a range of opportunities designed to deepen their understanding of the changing healthcare landscape, and to provide them with first-hand experience across different geographies. The award is dedicated to one of Hanover’s founders, Gregor Mackay, who passed away in 2005 eight weeks after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

The quality of applications we received was exceptional, so we opened up the award to two outstanding individuals, Jenna Reid and Cordelia McGeown.

Jenna and Cordelia were put through the paces of the programme, which saw them placed with healthcare teams across Hanover’s offices in London, Brussels, Dublin and the Middle East, as well as at work placements with national charity Bowel Cancer UK and NHS news site the Health Service Journal. They also attended the WIRED Health conference to learn about cutting edge technology.

Both of our latest Mackay award winners have now started permanent roles with us. Jenna has joined our Healthcare Communications team in London and Cordelia has joined the Hanover Dublin office. We caught up with them to find out more about their experiences on the placement.

What uncommon opportunities did the Mackay Award provide you with?
Jenna: It offered me the unique opportunity to experience working across four different geographical landscapes right across the globe, each with a differing culture and angle of health comms.

Cordelia: The Mackay award has kept me constantly challenged and inspired by uncommon opportunities – for example, being able to finish the workday and go dune bugging in Dubai, or meeting with European leaders in Brussels. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which I would recommend to anyone interested in advocacy or communications to apply for.

You spent time working in each of Hanover’s offices. What was that like? 
Jenna: The offices collaborate and share expertise when an opportunity arises that requires something a little extra to the regional norms. I feel this is something Hanover does well, and something that makes us stand out from many other agencies.

Cordelia: I found that each office had its own very distinctive personality. By the end of my programme, I came to the conclusion that Hanover is a family and each office is a sibling of one another.

What attracted you to a career in healthcare communications?
Cordelia: I recently completed a masters in Global Health. Upon graduation, I wanted to gain as much experience in as wide a manner as possible and that’s how I came to work in healthcare communications. I am constantly learning about new areas in Health while increasing my skills and expertise.

Jenna: I wanted a career that was exciting and fast paced, but also had links to my degree in Neuroscience. Specifically, I find the behavioural science side of things really interesting. For example, understanding what affects population decision-making and choices, and what that means for modes of communicating.

What advice would you give to this year’s graduates who might be considering a career in healthcare communications?
Cordelia: It is okay to not know all the answers and it’s even better to be openly curious about that.

Jenna: Healthcare communications is a very broad term and encompasses many different roles, from strategy-led campaign design to project management, product or corporate comms, medical writing, public relations and so on. There is an opportunity to choose your own path based on your skills and interests.

Did you feel part of the team at Hanover?
Jenna: I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to work as part of such talented and supportive teams during my placement. Everyone has been very helpful in bringing me onboard and I look forward to continue working with the Healthcare Comms team now that I’ve been offered a permanent position.

Cordelia: I say this all the time in the office, but the Healthcare Comms team really became my home away from home. I really consider them to have become my family.

Did the internship meet your expectations? 
Jenna: Absolutely, I went into the internship with an open mind and wanted to learn as much about the industry as I could. I feel I have learned a lot over the past six months, gaining a breadth of insight and knowledge of the global healthcare environment which would not have been possible elsewhere. The indirect skills I acquired, such as how to rapidly integrate into a team, and build working relationships, are invaluable in all career paths.

Cordelia: It exceeded them! I have been given amazing opportunities while at Hanover and been allowed to experiment in different fields and areas. I have grown in my understanding of the Middle East and European healthcare market places. I wasn’t limited to advocacy or communications, instead being able to find my own path between them. The internship offered me a nurturing environment to build relationships and experience.