People want purpose — I have a team of more than 1000 people who are all driving to serve our healthcare provider customers and their patients. So we gave it a name — “your practice is our purpose”. This became a rallying cry that aligned every employee to the same mission. Sales reps in the field felt the highest level of management shared the goal to help their customers. Decisions were made asking “is this YPOP?” as a filter to ensure we were living our mantra.
Asa part of my interview series with leaders in healthcare, I had the pleasure to interview Carrie Strom, Senior Vice President, Allergan U.S. Medical Aesthetics. As a commercial leader with 18 years in healthcare marketing, Carrie leads a multi-billion-dollar business unit with more than 1000 employees, spanning skincare, injectables, medical devices and surgical products — including some of the most iconic brands in medical aesthetics (BOTOX® Cosmetic, JUVEDERM®Collection of Fillers and CoolSculpting® to name a few).
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this
I joined Allergan in 2011 to launch BOTOX® on the therapeutic side for new indications in Urology and Neurology. That’s where I fell in the love with the BOTOX® molecule. Now I oversee BOTOX® for all its cosmetic indications, along with Juvederm, CoolScupting, SkinMedica, Latisse, Natrelle Breast Implants, and more- I have the best job in the business!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
In 2017, Allergan acquired a regenerative medicine company called Lifecell. They develop and manufacture acellular dermal matrices used for women post breast cancer mastectomy to improve the outcome of breast reconstructions. The product is called Alloderm, and it is human cadaver tissue that is processed using proprietary technology. I flew to Branchburg NJ to tour the manufacturing plant and saw first-hand how truly awesome the manufacturing process was. The product is sourced from human donors, these are real people who donated their bodies to help other people. The entire team says a prayer each day thanking the donors for their gift. In the hallway hangs a giant quilt with photos and stories of some of the donors. The team has painted a “tree of life” on the wall and they add a leaf to the tree each time another 1000 breast cancer patients are helped. The Alloderm process was absolutely innovative and totally respectful.
Can you tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the healthcare field?
My prior experiences in the healthcare field include:
• 11 years at Pfizer in sales and marketing, leading LIPITOR, which was at the time the biggest brand in all of pharmaceuticals until it went generic in 2011
• 8 years at Allergan in biologics, devices, surgical, pharma, skincare in both reimbursed and cash pay markets
• At Allergan, I also led successful acquisition and integrations of Lifecell ($2.8B), Keller Funnel, Envy Medical and other businesses
What makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Allergan stands out from other companies as the perfect balance of taking care of people both medically and cosmetically. Botox is a great example. There is such a great story behind BOTOX®Cosmetic; in fact, you can call it The American Dream! In just two decades, BOTOX® Cosmetic became the most iconic brand in aesthetics, and this year we are celebrating milestones like the 30th anniversary of BOTOC®’s first therapeutic indication and 100 million vials sold. In hindsight, BOTOX® was just an orphan drug for rare neurological conditions but innovative doctors coupled with Allergan’s vision to study the drug and get it FDA Approved for cosmetic use ushered in a world of possibilities. The Therapeutic indications have always been an advantage for BOTOX® — healthy people voluntarily requested treatment with BOTOX®, so you can just imagine how the track record for safety and efficacy helped people to trust BOTOX® Cosmetic and paved the way for explosive growth. The digital boom certainly contributed to the growth of BOTOX®Cosmetic. The ability of social media to share information at an unprecedented rate has created a generation of consumers who are more educated than ever.
BOTOX® is what we call a pipeline product. While BOTOX® Cosmetic is best known for creating the aesthetic market and is the only product with three cosmetic indications, the majority of sales are for therapeutic use, in which the drug has nine indications for. BOTOX® Therapeutic can change the lives of the patients and caregivers in areas like chronic migraine, post-stroke spasticity, and overactive bladder. Allergan is actively studying BOTOX® for even more therapeutic and cosmetic indications.
Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to and/or see in the healthcare industry? How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo? Which “pain point” is this trying to address?
Lack of consumer education and information continues to be a top barrier when it comes to medical aesthetics. Allergan is investing in overcoming this in new and innovative ways. We have developed an online consumer education website called theSpotlyte.com, which is on track for 2 million unique visitors. We have also shifted our consumer marketing investment from mostly TV, to mostly digital, since that is where our consumer is and where she is searching for answers.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
For the first time we’re offering BOTOX®Cosmetic gift cards — in partnership with Allergan DataLabs, which is an industry first and a way to meet consumers where they are, considering the popularity of gift cards. And it has been a great success, with 60,000 cards sold since the launch in December.
We’re also being smarter about how we connect with consumers through our Brilliant Distinctions loyalty program, which currently has over 5 million members and growing by 50,000 new consumers every month.
Through these gift card sales and Brilliant Distinctions, we are able to better understand our evolving consumer. Interestingly we are seeing that more than half of the people buying the gift cards are younger than 40, which reinforces that millennials are driving most of the growth in medical aesthetics.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
1. It’s actually good to not be the smartest person in the room — although I’m an expert on my business, I’ll admit I’m not an expert in digital marketing. So when we decided to build out a digital marketing function in house, Allergan Data Labs, it was my pleasure to recruit and hire people a lot smarter than me to run this new team.
2. Growing markets are more fun — I’ve worked in a lot of therapeutic areas, and all things considered, it’s a lot more fun to work in a growth market. Growing markets create more opportunities for innovation and career advancement. Medical aesthetics is a great example of a market that is on fire!
3. The customers have all the answers — we do a lot of market research, analysis and forecasting before launching a new product of program. This is important. But the quickest way to test an idea or get an answer is to go straight to the customer. For us, this is healthcare providers. So don’t hide behind your desk. Spend a few weeks in the field listening and asking questions, and you will know what you need to do to succeed.
4. People want purpose — I have a team of more than 1000 people who are all driving to serve our healthcare provider customers and their patients. So we gave it a name — “your practice is our purpose”. This became a rallying cry that aligned every employee to the same mission. Sales reps in the field felt the highest level of management shared the goal to help their customers. Decisions were made asking “is this YPOP?” as a filter to ensure we were living our mantra.
5. Surround yourself with a tribe who roots for you — I luckily have a husband who cheers on my career success. Not everyone has that support. I also have a network of friends and other working moms who raise me up. I also work with brilliant and fun men and women who push me to be better. Choose your tribe wisely — they can be the fuel to ignite your career, or the wet blanket that extinguishes it.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a better healthcare leader? Can you explain why you like them?
Start with Why by Simon Sinek because customers and employees are attracted to brands that have a clear “why”
Bad Blood by John Carreyrou because the truth is stranger than fiction. Vision and innovation are important, but patients have to always come first.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
On Instagram at @carrie_strom