Four questions for Bob Chandler as he faces 'small r' retirement

Bob Chandler, cofounder and principal of Chandler Chicco Companies and president of InVentiv Health Communications, talks with PRWeek about changes in the healthcare industry and getting ready for what he calls "small r retirement."

Bob Chandler, cofounder and principal of Chandler Chicco Companies and president of InVentiv Health Communications, talks with PRWeek about changes in the healthcare industry and getting ready for what he calls "small r retirement."

Q: How has healthcare communications evolved due to technology, the Affordable Care Act, and other factors such as major changes in the US hospital industry?
A: It hasn’t changed; that’s actually the crucible here. We have a lot of work to do, looking at the message, being able to understand what a patient really needs to hear from you most, and what that patient has to know to better care for either a chronic disease or even an acute one.

The hospital system is still flummoxing, really. If you look at what’s been going on in terms of how they need to provide for more communities, how they communicate to those communities – particularly the Affordable Care Act – there’s a dramatic amount of work they need to get done. They’re looking for every opportunity to make things more relevant to patients, but it’s such a daunting exercise. I think that’s what has changed. What’s changed is the horizon of what needs to get done and how it needs to happen.

Q: Do you have any big retirement plans?
A: I said that I’m "small r" retiring, not "capital r" retiring. 

I wanted to have more time with my family – I have a very young family with a 10-year-old, a nine-year-old, and a five-year-old – and I’m also on their school board, so I want to make sure I’m there, because I’ve traveled dramatically over the last four years.

That just became untenable for me in a lot of ways. So what I want to do is back off from the leadership – this role with inVentiv and Chandler Chicco Agency – and really explore the things I’m interested in.

I also want to make sure I’m giving Chandler Chicco Agency everything I can as president emeritus because I think there’s a lot they have done. We’ve had grand success in being able to provide patients and their caregivers programs that really matter, and that’s really what I’m focused on.

Q: What is the timeline for the leadership transition this summer?
A: Honestly, I think the transition is more than three-quarters there. Lisa [Stockman] is going to run Chandler Chicco Companies, and inVentiv has hired some new leaders on the ad agency side. They have a person now running the [commercial] segment, which is consulting communications and contract selling.

What I think they’re going to do is have folks ladder up to that person for now. I think that it’s a good model, and it allows me the opportunity to work with particularly Chandler Chicco in a way that I really want to focus the rest of my career on. That is, again, patient-centric initiatives.

Q: If you could go back, what would you do differently in cofounding and running Chandler Chicco?
A: Not a thing. We were blessed from the beginning, absolutely blessed. I think we had this good reputation within [previous employer] Burson-Marsteller, handling a lot of major pharma companies and brands.

It was everything I always wanted – no walls, no titles, no bureaucracy. And the ability for every single person to think about what their role can be with us for the client. I always say we’re multilateral; we have sort of a multifaceted approach to team-making. Everyone has a role to play. We looked at the business, and we looked at staff, and we picked and chose a team for each one of those accounts. And it really worked.

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