Finn Partners, a global independent marketing and communications agency, has promoted Kristie Kuhl, JD, to Managing Partner, Global Health Practice Leader. Kuhl joined Finn Partners in 2015 as U.S. Pharma and NY Health Head, and in her time at the company has helped the Health Practice grow from $8 million to more than $35 million in client fees as well as be recognized as a top global healthcare agency by PRovoke Media, one of the four largest independent health agencies in O’Dwyer’s PR, and “Most Admired Agency” by industry trade community HITMC.
“I’ve known Kristie for 20 years as an exceptional person and leader with a great heart and desire to see other people succeed,” Gil Bashe, Managing Partner and Chair, Global Health, Finn Partners told PM360. “She was the first person I hired when I joined FINN six years ago and, in that time, we have ascended to become one of the industry’s leading health practices in communications. One reason for that is Finn Partners’ unique voice in expressing the challenges of our fragmented health system and then offering possible solutions for how to get the health ecosystem to work together. Kristie from the earliest moment understood the potential of achieving that goal and has helped us realize it.”
Kuhl came to FINN after serving as an executive vice president at agencies Cohn & Wolfe and Makovsky, where she drew on her knowledge of pharma marketing, regulatory law, patient advocacy, and the U.S. reimbursement system to advance breakthrough therapies. She received her law degree from Quinnipiac University after working as a leader in a cancer patient advocacy organization. Now she will lead FINN’s Health Practice as it embarks on its next wave of growth.
“FINN’s Health Practice is in a great place from the incredible organic growth we’ve had over the last six years to important acquisitions that have recently strengthened our offering,” Kuhl told PM360. “My role is to enable that growth to continue and to foster an environment that’s true to our values, which are to amaze, make a difference in the world, collaborate, and ensure that we’re removing obstacles. While we have done incredible work with some of the most innovative companies in the world, there’s a lot more to do. There are still people who do not have health and wellness and are seeking it, so we’ll continue to build across all healthcare sectors with the ultimate goal of serving patient care.”
Bashe, who formerly lead the Health Practice, ascended to the role of Global Health Chair six months ago. In his new role, he will focus on acquisitions, agency-wide strategic efforts, client priorities, and partnerships that ally players throughout the industry to improve global health and access to innovation. Bashe is also charged with drawing on his industry knowledge and commitment to clients and colleagues in order to expand health client opportunities throughout the FINN global community.
“Working collaboratively, understanding the fundamentals of the health ecosystem, and recognizing it’s not just about visibility but connectivity, are the reasons FINN has been so successful and uniquely positions us to help other companies and their leaders explore the opportunity of engaging together for a better cause,” Bashe explains. “The greatest example of the impact collaboration can have within our industry is the COVID-19 vaccines. We have seen historically strange bedfellows come together as allies and partners. What happened in the last 18 months actually sets the course for the future, and we cannot go back. We have to look to each other to build insights to tackle the diseases and health disparities we have yet to conquer.”
Under Bashe and Kuhl, FINN’s Health Practice has grown to become one of the agency’s largest units. And its success has started to spill into the other sectors within FINN as healthcare has become a central issue for many other industries. And now, the Health Practice’s 175 staff members are positioned to address health opportunities agency-wide as well as provide leadership among peers throughout the industry to effect real change.
“Peter Finn created an organizational culture that is an extremely collaborative, which means clients get the full weight of our skills, our experience, and our scale no matter which our of practices they are working with,” Bashe says. “Right now, we’re seeing our food production industry, our consumer products industry, the environmental sector, and more all looking toward health and wellness as both business opportunities and social opportunities. As an example, we’re working with the International WELL Building Institute on looking at whether building materials are healthy and that they have health in mind for the people who use the building. So, the expertise of our Health Practice is having a beneficial effect across our practices and therefore across industries and society as a whole.”
Meanwhile, Kuhl is prepared to lead the Health Practice during a period of transformation for the healthcare system and life sciences industry. Due to the pandemic, both industries were forced to accelerate many changes towards digital health and digital communications as well as make other transitions to how they operate.
“We are seeing shifts in how sales reps interact with HCPs, in how people were forced to delay care or were not able to get care for things beyond emergency or COVID, in how people are looking differently at various cancers and non-life-threatening chronic disease, and in how people don’t feel an obligation to live as close to major city centers as they once did—those are all things we will have to adjust to,” Kuhl says. “But when it comes to creating campaigns that drive action and have a lasting impact on patient care and health in general, we know a few things. We know that people are really important partners. We know that language matters tremendously. We know you have to bring in both logic and emotion. Those are the things we consider as we look at these trends and how to best serve our clients.”
As Kuhl looks more long term and the goals she has for the Health Practice five to 10 years down the road, she is focused on creating more jobs and opportunities for people to have a positive impact on health and continuing to work with clients and people who are disrupting the health system.
“I’m most interested in making sure that we at Finn Partners are having a tremendously positive impact on health globally,” Kuhl explains. “Part of that is ensuring that health doesn’t become a status symbol. In some ways, the old saying that ‘health is wealth’ is very true, but we don’t want there to be a divide of the haves and the have-nots. That means working with the incredible patient advocates out there who are changing the world and looking at things that are innovative and capable of changing care. Whether that is telemedicine, a new medication, a new medical device, we are always working toward transforming the way people stay healthy.”
Peter Finn, CEO and Founding Partner of Finn Partners, believes the working partnership between Kuhl and Bashe will enable the agency to achieve those goals.
“Kristie now steps forward to lead one of our agency’s most important and fast-growing practices and Gil charts the future of health within FINN and throughout the industry,” Finn said in a statement. “Their model collaboration increases the possibility that FINN will elevate the industry’s ability to create a healthier, better world.”