Mick O'Leary Ashfield

How to Be a Successful Managing Director and Leader

Mick O’Leary, Managing Director of Ashfield Healthcare shares his inside knowledge about leadership and working with the healthcare & pharmaceutical industry.

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In this interview, Mick shares insights and advice that will be useful for people looking to enter the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry and for people who want to know a little bit about what it takes to be successful leader. As the MD, Mick is responsible for teams at Ashfield Healthcare that provide a broad range of services to businesses in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry.

Ashfield Healthcare operates across three broad areas of activity: contract sales outsourcing, healthcare communications and clinical solutions. Contract sales outsourcing involves providing tailored sales teams for businesses, healthcare communications involves providing services such as medical writing and marketing communications and clinical solutions involves providing patient support services.

Mick O'Leary
Mick O’Leary – Managing Director at Ashfield Healthcare

What kind of challenges and projects do you work on?

We work with our clients, principally pharma companies to create effective and sometimes innovative resourcing solutions for their businesses. This can range from big pharma companies adding to their own resources with an outsourced team of medical sales representatives to a one person operation seeking help to compete with the big pharmaceutical companies. Each customer is massively important to us and we take great care in offering equal time and energy to all customers.

What does a typical day look like?

As per most businesses, there is no typical day. I would like to say that my time is spent exclusively on positive initiatives such as developing business strategies and building a great team but that is not always the case. There is a lot of negotiating, firefighting and discussions about ordinary day-to-day challenges. I find that it’s important to be flexible and tackle things as they come up but at the same time, one needs to learn to anticipate events before they happen where possible.

What’s the most interesting thing you have learnt in this field?

Without a doubt, it is learning about my own and my team’s ability to rebound from a knock. When one is pitching for new business all the time, it is inevitable that one will not win every opportunity. It is important to celebrate the success of winning, learn from lost opportunities and continuously improve.

What led you to decide you wanted to work in this field?

I always liked the service industry. My family’s business in West Cork is retail and that’s where I learnt about serving and helping customers. At a young age, this experience in retail showed me that I really enjoyed working with customers and in a service driven environment.

How is this field going to change in the upcoming years?

The healthcare and pharma industry is fast embracing multi-channel marketing. We recognise that our ultimate customers, Healthcare Professionals, are different and will require different channels of communication. As a company we are well placed for this evolution and through a very effective mergers & acquisitions strategy, we are continuing to take a leading role in shaping this industry.

What advice would you give to people looking to enter the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry?

Look into the excellent Medical Representatives Institute of Ireland (MRII). They will help guide interested candidates along the journey. Also, build up your network, make contact with people working in the industry and find out about the different roles in the industry. Further to that, read up on the pharma industry, the Department of Health and the various challenges facing all stakeholders.

What does it take to be successful in this field?

It requires a very healthy mix of a lot of different things. You need a great attitude, communication skills, the ability to influence and lead people, a strong desire to win and a double helping of tenacity – as success rarely comes at the first attempt.

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