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“5 Ways to Leverage LinkedIn to Dramatically Improve your Business” with Mark McKenna of Salix Pharmaceuticals

Business development. I look at LinkedIn as a news engine of thought leaders and key opinion thought leaders sharing what matters the most in health care and business. For example, by keeping a pulse on the latest trends in healthcare, I can identify an unmet need in healthcare and that could perhaps lead to a […]


Business development. I look at LinkedIn as a news engine of thought leaders and key opinion thought leaders sharing what matters the most in health care and business. For example, by keeping a pulse on the latest trends in healthcare, I can identify an unmet need in healthcare and that could perhaps lead to a business development opportunity.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark McKenna. Mark is the President of Salix Pharmaceuticals, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bausch Health Companies and one of the largest specialty pharmaceutical companies in the world committed to the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. For 30 years, Salix has licensed, developed, and marketed innovative products to improve patients’ lives and arm health care providers with life-changing solutions for chronic and debilitating conditions.


Thank you for joining us Mark! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My entry into health care was unique in the sense that I had originally planned to go to school to study aeronautical engineering with the goal of eventually becoming a pilot. Ironically, while flying home after my freshman semester, I sat on an airplane next to a senior executive who worked at a very large health care company. We spent the better part of the three hours discussing his career. I quickly realized that I was drawn to a career that helps improve patient lives. This interaction eventually led to a pivotal change in my career and was the gateway to my first role in healthcare.

Mentors, who I met along the way, also impacted my career path. For example, a few years into the health care field, I recall being offered a high-profile role that would require me to move my family across the country. At the time, I was running a sales division and was offered an important role in global marketing. I was honored and humbled to be considered for the role, yet there was also fear of leaving the comfort of the known to pursue the unknown. I was heavily weighing the decision when a mentor encouraged me to step outside of my comfort zone. I took the role and believe that my career path would be very different today had I not taken this leap of faith.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I would say the most interesting story was my shift in industries going from working in eye care devices to pharmaceutical products in gastroenterology. Once again I was at a cross road in my life where I was challenged to try something new. Not only did I have to learn a new industry and new products, but I was faced with the daunting task of assimilating a new business, post-acquisition.

During this time, we were facing many challenges and could have limited our horizons by focusing on just the negative — our obstacles, our grievances, things that we didn’t have, etc. We asked the right questions, picked the right teams, used data to pursue the right strategies and focused on the positive. That’s where I realized that through adversity I would learn the most about myself. What appeared to be a big task turned out to be one of the most rewarding experiences for me. I enjoy business challenges and an even great thrill is seeing the turn-around.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I learned many lessons early on in my career, including being on time for flights and being prepared for meetings, but the funniest lesson I learned was to always be prepared with an extra wardrobe.

A few years ago, I had a first meeting with my boss, the Chairman and CEO of the company. Prior to the meeting, I was drinking a cup of coffee and had my back turned to the door of my office. An employee walked in and said, “HEY, good morning!.” Startled, I tossed the coffee in the air. It landed all over my hair and shirt. Lesson learned: always have a backup sportscoat in the office.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

The most important asset of any company walks in and out of the building every day and while you won’t find people as an asset on a balance sheet, human capital is by far the biggest contributor to shareholder value in an organization.

I’ve found LinkedIn to be the most effective platform for talent. In order to win in the marketplace, you have to build the best team, and in order to build the best team, you have to attract the best talent. Through our company LinkedIn page and also via my personal LinkedIn page, we’ve been able to foster connections, identify, attract and retain top talent.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

1) Connecting with key customers. Connecting with key stakeholders, whether it’s advocacy groups, or physicians, is imperative. I like to stay abreast of what’s important to these key stakeholders, the content they’re sharing and to communicate with them via the LinkedIn platform. You never know when they may share something that helps inform your business strategy moving forward.

2) Building a brand. Behind every successful company is successful branding. Whether it’s posting original content or sharing an interesting news piece, I make it a point to share my perspective and the great work we’re doing.

3) Business development. I look at LinkedIn as a news engine of thought leaders and key opinion thought leaders sharing what matters the most in health care and business. For example, by keeping a pulse on the latest trends in healthcare, I can identify an unmet need in healthcare and that could perhaps lead to a business development opportunity.

4) Finding talent. It’s important to get the right people on board to execute your business strategy. There’s simply no substitute for talent and LinkedIn streamlines the process for finding the high performers to help drive the business forward.

5) Staying connected. Maintaining good relationships with former colleagues is very important to me. I make an effort to stay informed on what they’ve been up to and congratulate them on their successes. You never know when an opportunity may arise where you can work together again.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to drastically transform our healthcare system in the U.S. I’d get a group of stakeholders together, inside and outside of our industry, to share their biggest problems/concerns in relation to healthcare and figure out a way to address each. Ideally, we would work to find a common ground to help improve access for patients with different therapies while overhauling our current healthcare system for the benefit of patients.

Another area of interest for me is finding solutions to the opioid crisis. This is an area of high unmet medical need that I have personally committed to addressing through a recent partnership at our Company.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

I’d love to meet with Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon. He is a disruptor and a changemaker who has built an incredible business. I recently came across an article about how Amazon is changing health care and was very impressed with where they are going as a company. Amazon has the infrastructure and ability to disintermediate healthcare and I would love the opportunity to talk with him about these things and find common ground where Salix and Amazon could work together.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

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