Exclusive: Agency hires former Edelman and Weber Shandwick UK healthcare chiefs

Two of the most senior people in UK healthcare comms have joined agency W20, PRWeek has learned.

Kate Hawker (left) and Lucie Harper (right) have joined W20 Group
Kate Hawker (left) and Lucie Harper (right) have joined W20 Group

The healthcare-focused marketing and comms agency has appointed Edelman’s Kate Hawker and Weber Shandwick’s Lucie Harper as global practice leads. They took up their new roles last week.

Both women featured prominently in PRWeek’s ‘Top 10 in healthcare and pharma comms’ list, earlier this year.

Hawker and Harper have been appointed to support W20’s international growth and focus on healthcare, and to lead comms teams working with the agency’s clients, which include top pharma, biotech and digital health firms.

The agency employs 800 people worldwide, including an 80-strong team in London, with another office in Zurich, Switzerland.

Hawker’s initial focus will be driving the agency’s global corporate and relevance portfolio, while Harper will be responsible for its integrated comms business.

Their remit includes growing the global business and supporting clients’ international growth as well as developing new services and offers.

They will join the leadership team, based in London, and report to W20’s EMEA President Annalise Coady.

Previous experience

Kate Hawker

Hawker has 30 years’ experience in healthcare comms – spanning some of the UK’s biggest agencies – beginning her career as an account executive with Ethical Communications.

A longer stint as account director for Shire Health followed before Hawker joined the then-Fleishman-Hillard, rising to become director and partner there after nine years.

Hawker went on to be managing director of health and chair of the EMEA health practice at what was then Burson-Marsteller, where she worked for nearly five years.

Most recently she was managing director of Edelman UK’s health team, overseeing comms and campaigns for the agency - a role she left in May after two years in post.

Hawker was replaced at Edelman by a triumvirate of co-leads for its healthcare practice: Angela Mahaney, Ashlea Reece and Eleanor Read.

Commenting on her new job, Hawker told PRWeek she was looking forward to working on W20’s ‘relevance index’, an analytics model that tracks data on CEO approval ratings, financial analyst coverage and employee visibility.

She added: "I am thrilled to join the W2O Group and am very excited by its digital-first approach…relevance is the new reputation."

Lucie Harper

Harper has more than 25 years’ experience in comms, starting her career at Penny Ryder Publicity, where she was an account executive.

Like Hawker, Harper worked for both Shire Health and Burson-Marsteller, before moving to Weber Shadwick UK, where she worked for the past 14 years.

She was promoted to group managing director of Weber Shandwick’s healthcare division in 2010 and in 2016 her role was expanded again to lead not only the agency’s healthcare practice but also client experience in London.

Last year, Harper was promoted again, this time to the role of chair of the agency’s UK health practice.

Harper told PRWeek: "I am incredibly excited to be joining W20 Group. The entrepreneurial spirit, passion and vision is what excites me. The expertise of the people here is truly inspiring and I am proud to be part of the team."

Agency comment

Commenting on the hires of Hawker and Harper, Coady said: "We’re thrilled Kate and Lucie, two of the best leaders in the UK market, have joined W2O to provide additional firepower to spearhead our growth. They are joining and augmenting a diversified, highly talented and successful team to enable us to continue on this exciting growth trajectory."

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