O’Kane lands top job at Syneos Health Comms


The longtime comms head and Syneos exec assumed the role of president last month.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).

Syneos Health Communications has tapped Jeanine O’Kane, one of its longest-serving execs who led Syneos’ portfolio of PR shops, to become president, the agency said on Tuesday.

She assumed the role in March, succeeding former global president Tim Pantello, who left in the fall to take the CEO job at Relevate Health. O’Kane will oversee the company’s communications offering, which spans PR, advertising, patient advocacy, medcomms, managed markets and naming and branding. 

“I’ve had the advantage of being a colleague and collaborating with all of [the units],” O’Kane said. “A lot of other people have done an amazing job to make it seamless for us to work together end-to-end.”

To a large extent, O’Kane will continue in that vein, leveraging her understanding of the “full spectrum of the business,” including Syneos’ clinical trials protocol and optimization services, and making it easy for colleagues to combine the pieces into differentiated solutions for healthcare clients.

“A big part of my focus will be helping colleagues across communications to take the best of Syneos and pull that through to our work,” she said.

Integrating comms and commercial expertise into clinical development has been a theme of O’Kane’s 20-year career. Her decade-plus stint with Syneos includes four years as MD at Biosector 2, one of three standalone agencies, along with Chandler Chicco Agency and Chamberlain, in Syneos Health’s U.S. PR group. 

In 2015, she was elevated to president of that group, and she has spent the past seven years in that role. Her goals include an emphasis on client service, extending both internally and externally, tapping into the “huge benefit” of treating colleagues like clients, she said.. 

“The speed of change is daunting in the communications piece, in terms of how patients are interacting with information and how employees expect and want to interact with information. That puts a huge emphasis on innovation.”

O’Kane takes the Syneos Health reins as external forces have altered the needs of pharma and med-tech clients. 

“The focus has shifted,” she said. “Social justice has come to the forefront. The role of employees in communication in any company has taken on a whole new relevance.”

Syneos Health’s revenue rose 2% in 2021 to an MM+M-estimated $266 million from 2020, according to MM+M’s Agency 100.

This story first appeared on mmm-online.com. 

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