Earlier this month, Finn Partners announced the creation of a new role for Kristie Kuhl. Finn Partners has seen incredible growth over the past six years as revenue grew from $8 million to $35.
The agency represents some of the biggest health brands such as Johnson & Johnson, Corbus Pharmaceuticals and Bausch + Lomb. The company looks set to further expand its health practices following COVID-19 demand from the health sector.
Kristie joined Finn Partners six years ago, following a role as executive vice president at Cohn & Wolfe and Makovsky. She loves that her position with the company allows her to positively impact people’s health and well-being.
“It’s very exciting to be at a place where values and making a difference in the world or having a positive business impact matter. Before I became the global health leader, I was running US Biopharma and the New York Health Group which gave me an opportunity to not only help clients, build businesses and create jobs but work across the globe. It’s a great position for me to be in because I’m coming into a healthy organisation that has grown tremendously over the years with incredible colleagues around the world.”
Creative thinking for health
Kristie says her background combines many different areas including law, advocacy and agency work. Alongside her established history of agency and health sector work, she has an arts background and double majored in history and fine arts. She says this gave her the ability to engage in and combine creativity and critical thinking.
“My background is a mix. I have a law degree but before I went to law school, I worked for an advocacy group that did education about breast cancer. I’ve been in the agency world for the vast majority of my professional career and I really love it.”
“I’m creative but not a scientist yet I can make a difference in someone’s life. That feels really good. For me, joining the health space early in my career was enlightening. I’ve been with a number of agencies over the years, but throughout, it’s been about the ability to work with very smart, analytical and creative people who want to solve the world’s problems.”
The next big thing
With some of the biggest brands in health as clients, does she have any favourites? Kristie is proud of what the brand has achieved but looks to the future for the next big launch.
“It’s always about the next one. Every single brand or product launch I’ve worked on, I’ve been honoured to be a part of it. There is such an honour when clients want you to be a part of this, they want your ideas and you get to play a role in it. We learn from each one then continue to apply it so my favourite is always the next one.”
If she was to think back to a career highlight, it must surely be the moment where she was recognised as a top woman in PR for 2020.
“It felt very humbling. I tend to think what I’ve accomplished, anyone can. It was an honour to think that people in my industry thought so highly of me. I’m always thinking that there is more to do to help people in the world. It was lovely to pull back for a moment and think that I’ve had a positive impact on some people.”
It’s a challenging time for companies amid the new normal of COVID varients and vaccines. COVID demanded an immediate change for healthcare companies in terms of the way they worked and what they provided. One positive to the changing environment meant a reduction in communication barriers as Zoom use increased. Kristie believes her biggest challenge will be reducing these barriers further.
“My biggest challenge will be how we can reduce barriers so that people across the agency can learn from each other. We have a collaborative spirit and we want to make sure we continue to make connections because we can’t be in person. We did a lot of what we called, speed dating, where we had 10-minute increments where people met together on Zoom to spark conversation before being put into another session. People really loved it and it made it so much easier.”
“I’m a very lucky woman. I’ve lived through many traumatising things including a pandemic yet I have a healthy husband, children and all four of us are vaccinated. It’s had a big impact but there are positive lessons I can take out of it.”
Kristie will take over from Finn Partners Global Health Chair Gil Bashe. Gil, the managing partner and global health chair and Health Tech correspondent, will be focusing on acquisitions, agency-wide strategic efforts and client priorities. He believes Kristie’s sense of purpose, perspective and passion make her the perfect choice for the role.
“Purpose, perspective and a passion to ensure communications sparks healing conversations are essential leadership tools and Kristie Kuhl comes to this global role with both those strengths in running a fast-growing community and a clarity that success is determined by lives improved,” Gil said.
“Kristie has the bold understanding that leaders ignite people’s curiosity and their desire to do more and be better. Learning organizations such as FINN draw from the enthusiasm and commitment of leaders like Kristie in order to serve clients, colleagues and the health system’s ultimate customer – the patient,” he added.
Health systems in the developed world are remarkably fragmented, and Kristie has the vision to connect those disparate pieces so that health innovators can succeed in navigating this complexity to, hopefully, impact people’s lives for the better,”