Q&A with Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communications at Fix Network World

marketing metrics
Maliha Aqeel, Director of Global Communications at Fix Network World is an award-winning, communication and marketing professional who helps companies harness the power of their brand to drive engagement and achieve measurable business results. 

She has developed and led content and marcomm programs for B2B companies in the financial and professional services sectors in her over 15 years of industry experience.

MEDIA 7: When did you start working and what was it?
MALIHA AQEEL:
I started my career in 1996 right after high school, freelancing as a journalist and features writer for a magazine in Dubai, UAE. Over time, I expanded my services to include scriptwriting for corporate videos and TV productions, writing and designing client newsletters and promotional collateral.

M7: What made you want to pursue a career in branding and marketing communications? What aspect about your role brings you the most joy?
MA: I didn’t consciously decide to pursue a career in marketing and communication as my plan was to become a filmmaker. However, I had great curiosity about what makes people prefer one brand over the other when a feature-by-feature comparison didn’t show a huge difference between similar products or services. I had taken a few advertising courses during university and it broadened my understanding of how powerful brand experiences and storytelling can drive business objectives. That balance of strategy and creativity is what I enjoy most about what I do and why I’ve continued to find purpose in my career.


"Marketing professionals have to act as conveners, and connect the dots so that there is alignment between stakeholders like sales and operation teams and executive leadership on what products and services will drive growth in any given quarter."

M7: How has branding changed over the years to become what it is today? What marketing metrics do you value most for brand management?
MA:
Branding used to be focused on the tactical: aesthetics of an ad, wordsmithing copy and “selling” a vision that was less about what the customer needed and more about what the brand wanted you to purchase. Much of this was driven by the rise of a consumerist society in the 1980s and part of the 1990s. But the new millennium witnessed boom-bust economic cycles, changing demographics and technological advances at a relentless pace than ever before. Gradually, the brand’s point of view started to become less relevant and empowered consumers took back control of their brand experience and their buyer journey.

Now brands have to look outward, focusing on the needs, behaviors and motivations of their end customers. They’re also recognizing that purpose and having an impact on society in a positive way is what will drive their enterprise value instead of share price alone. The institutional investors are also taking notice and aligning their investment criteria and evaluation accordingly. This was one of the outcomes of the Embankment Project for Inclusive Capitalism, a multi-year initiative that looked into making capitalism more dynamic, sustainable, inclusive and trusted. As a result, the brand metrics that I value most are outcome-focused like contribution to reputation value, net promoter score, brand perception (a combination of brand recall and service delivery) and employee engagement/advocacy scores.


"One of the most common mistakes companies make is implementing a brand strategy that isn’t aligned to the organization’s overall business goal."

M7: What are the common mistakes that companies make when implementing their brand strategies?
MA:
One of the most common mistakes is implementing a strategy that isn’t aligned to the organization’s overall business goal. This can be challenging in large corporations where there are multiple competing priorities, but marketing professionals have to act as conveners, and connect the dots so that there is alignment between stakeholders like sales and operation teams and executive leadership on what products and services will drive growth in any given quarter. And then create and implement holistic marketing campaigns that drive specific results that support the key performance indicators (KPIs) that the executives are measured on.

A second mistake is running campaigns that are not aligned from a macro or micro environmental perspective. For example, an oil company runs a social media campaign on their corporate citizenship initiatives at a time when the industry (not necessarily the company) is under regulatory scrutiny for bad environmental practices. The timing, not necessarily the content, of the campaign can appear tone deaf and unsympathetic to sentiment in society. Another instance is if a company runs an employer branding campaign about its great culture at a time when it might be going through litigation for a workplace harassment issue. To counter this, marketing and communication professionals need to create business partnerships across all layers and functions of the company so that they’re planning and executing brand strategies that are contextually appropriate and reputationally sound.


"Marketing and communication professionals need to create business partnerships across all layers and functions of the company so that they’re planning and executing brand strategies that are contextually appropriate and reputationally sound."

M7: Which strategies do you count on to help leaders understand the value of communications?
MA:
I’m a huge advocate of data-driven decision making and offering informed insights and recommendations. C-suite executives see data analytics as a distinct competitive advantage for their business, and it can be the main strategy we use to help them understand our value. Gut instinct has a role to play in planning and execution, but to convince others and demonstrate our importance, we need to have a common understanding of business goals and use language that senior leaders will understand. Examples of this include showing how strategic communications resulted in cost efficiencies, margin improvement and contribution to revenue or increase in sales. These are tangible financial results that any executive function will recognize and appreciate. In addition to the above, I also use benchmarking data (internal and external) and forecasting as part of my communication and resource planning so that I have a framework for reporting to leadership on communication-driven outcomes.

M7: With over 15 years of progressive experience in strategic communication, what advice do you have for leaders who are trying to improve their performance?
MA:
My advice is to bring the brand promise and purpose into your decision-making process. Often, not always, performance is directly impacted by the culture of an organization. And your culture is a reflection of your purpose. It conveys why what the organization does matters; make evangelists out of your customers and convince employees to be part of the journey not just show up for a pay cheque. Research by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are 21% more productive, but low employee engagement results in 65% lower share price over time.

Communication professionals are enablers of the brand. As strategic advisors, we have to help make the connection between culture and business performance—between the intangible and the tangible. The cost of getting it wrong can have a negative impact on reputation capital, share price and even the balance sheet. Research from the Engagement Institute showed that disengaged employees cost US businesses up to $550 billion a year, which is a little over half the nominal GDP of The Netherlands in 2019 ($900 billion). That’s not a comparison that you want someone making at your annual general meeting of shareholders.

ABOUT FIX NETWORK WORLD

The Fix Network global family of brands includes collision repair franchise networks Fix Auto and Pro Color, glass repair and replacement brand NOVUS Glass and mechanical shops Speedy Auto Service, as well as the full suite of SRP glass products. With more than 2,100 points of service in over 40 countries worldwide, Fix Network is the global aftermarket services leader. The Network continues to grow internationally, thanks to a solid foundation based on entrepreneurship and innovation. For more information, visit Fixnetwork.

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FORTREA SELECTS COGNIZANT AS ITS TECHNOLOGY TRANSFORMATION PROVIDER

PR Newswire | January 05, 2024

Cognizant and Fortrea, a leading global provider of clinical development and patient access solutions to the life sciences industry, today announced that Cognizant has been selected as Fortrea's strategic technology transformation provider. By partnering with Cognizant, Fortrea aims to continue advancing its mission and delivering solutions to its pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device customers – and to the patients those customers serve – within the confines of a sound and secure digital infrastructure. Over the four-year agreement, Cognizant is expected to transform Fortrea's global technology environment. Cognizant's approach to the project is expected to bring the speed and agility necessary for the deployment of the next generation hybrid cloud and platforms required for a new era of digital innovation for Fortrea. The state-of-the-art technologies and services are designed to empower Fortrea to transform into a "born digital" organization, enabling a seamless digital experience with agility and efficiency across many different touchpoints. In June 2023, Fortrea successfully completed its spin-off from its former parent company in a move designed to enhance its agility; capitalize on growth opportunities in phase I-IV clinical trials and patient access; and extend its leading positions in oncology, clinical pharmacology and partnership models. In 2024, Cognizant will play a fundamental role in the exit from Fortrea's Transition Service Agreements with its former parent company, facilitating a smooth switch and the establishment of the global Fortrea infrastructure, application management, and end-user services. Cognizant's strategic services are expected to elevate Fortrea's data and analytical capabilities with the goal of setting new standards in the CRO industry and driving modernization required to support Fortrea's global operations. Fortrea also expects to benefit from Cognizant's robust life sciences and healthcare technology experience to help address the evolving needs of its customers, including some of the industry's leading enterprises. "Today's announcement reflects Fortrea's renewed organizational agility following our spin-off," said Alejandro Martinez Galindo, Chief Information Officer of Fortrea. "We are selectively investing in clinical applications and platforms that give us and our customers an advantage in the race to bring life-changing treatments to patients faster. As we build the infrastructure that's essential to supporting these platforms and quickly delivering the insights our customers rely on, we have the opportunity to be 'born digital.' Our new modern ecosystem will be designed to speed decision making with innovation in clinical development. Cognizant's deep expertise will help make our vision a reality." "Cognizant is proud to partner with Fortrea as they leverage technology to build a world-class culture of excellence that benefits customers, patients, employees and shareholders," said Cognizant EVP, Software and Platform Engineering, Prasad Sankaran. "With our deep domain expertise in clinical trial platforms, medical administration automation and secure collaboration, we can help Fortrea fortify its position as an independent, best-in-class digital, global Contract Research Organization." "We're looking forward to bringing Cognizant expertise from across our service portfolio to support Fortrea's goal of providing a seamless digital experience for their customers. And we expect our work together will help Fortrea achieve a step-change from the legacy systems common across the industry, to a fully digital ecosystem leveraging the latest technology, which should result in better customer experiences and greater efficiency," said Cognizant EVP & President of the Americas, Surya Gummadi. About Cognizant Cognizant engineers modern businesses. We help our clients modernize technology, reimagine processes and transform experiences so they can stay ahead in our fast-changing world. Together, we're improving everyday life. About Fortrea Fortrea is a leading global provider of clinical development and patient access solutions to the life sciences industry. We partner with emerging and large biopharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostic companies to drive healthcare innovation that accelerates life changing therapies to patients in need. Fortrea provides phase I-IV clinical trial management, clinical pharmacology, differentiated technology-enabled trial solutions and post-approval services. Fortrea's solutions leverage three decades of experience spanning more than 20 therapeutic areas, a passion for scientific rigor, exceptional insights and a strong investigator site network. Our talented and diverse team of about 19,000 people working in more than 90 countries is scaled to deliver focused and agile solutions to customers globally.

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PHARMA TECH

Medison Pharma Announces Agreement with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to Commercialize Libtayo (cemiplimab) in Multiple Countries

PR Newswire | January 08, 2024

Medison Pharma ("Medison"), a global pharma company focused on providing access to highly innovative therapies to patients in international markets, announced today their exclusive multi-national agreement with Regeneron Ireland DAC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a leading biotechnology company that invents, develops and commercializes life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases, to commercialize Libtayo (cemiplimab), a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the immune checkpoint receptor PD-1 on T cells, in select European markets and additional markets around the world. Libtayo was invented in laboratories at Regeneron, which acquired exclusive worldwide development, commercialization, and manufacturing rights to the medicine from Sanofi in July 2022. Medison and Regeneron will work together with all stakeholders and regulatory authorities to facilitate a seamless transition of commercialization activities to Medison during the first half of 2024. Libtayo, which was invented using Regeneron's proprietary VelocImmune® technology, is currently approved by regulatory authorities in more than two dozen countries, including by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). In select markets, it is approved as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with advanced basal cell carcinoma (BCC), as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with advanced cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC), as both monotherapy or in combination with chemotherapy for certain patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and/or as monotherapy treatment for certain patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer. Libtayo is a leading and first-in-class PD-1 inhibitor approved for the treatment of two non-melanoma skin cancers and is considered standard of care in these indications. "Our multi-regional commercial platform is a great fit for Regeneron's go-to-market plan and another great opportunity for Medison to facilitate access to highly innovative therapies for people suffering from rare and severe diseases," said Meir Jakobsohn, Founder and Executive Chairman of Medison. "Regeneron's selection of Medison is yet another testimony of the unique value that our multi-regional solution can generate for innovative biotech companies wishing to focus on selected markets." "We are proud to partner with Regeneron," said Gil Gurfinkel, CEO of Medison. "Our one-of-a-kind centralized, unified commercial platform, with single alliance management across multiple markets and regions, is of great value to more and more leading biotech companies. Our platform enables biotech companies to transform numerous complex and fragmented markets and regions into a unified territory." About Libtayo Libtayo is a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the immune checkpoint receptor PD-1 on T cells and was invented using Regeneron's proprietary VelocImmune technology. By binding to PD-1, Libtayo has been shown to block cancer cells from using the PD-1 pathway to suppress T-cell activation. In the U.S. and other countries Libtayo is indicated in certain patients with advanced BCC, advanced CSCC and advanced NSCLC, as well as in advanced cervical cancer in the European Union, Canada and Brazil. As of July 1, 2022, Libtayo is developed and marketed globally by Regeneron. Outside of the U.S., the generic name for Libtayo is cemiplimab. The extensive clinical program for Libtayo is focused on difficult-to-treat cancers. Libtayo is currently being investigated in trials as a monotherapy, as well as in combination with either conventional or novel therapeutic approaches for other solid tumors and blood cancers. These potential uses are investigational, and their safety and efficacy have not been evaluated by any regulatory authority. About Medison Pharma Medison is a global pharma company focused on providing access to highly innovative therapies to patients in international markets. Medison is the first to create an international commercialization platform for highly innovative therapies, helping to save and improve lives by making the best available novel treatments accessible to patients in international markets. Medison has a track record of multi-territorial partnerships with leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies seeking to expand their global reach.

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