When we look back to the early 2020s we have a clearer picture of what we are currently lacking. . We’ll be able to see how industries are impacted by the pandemic and its subsequent socio-economic consequences.

One of the industries we’ll look at very closely is the healthcare sector. For obvious reasons healthcare is one of those industries, driven to evolve to tackle the global crisis.

Joining us in this issue is Mandy Phang, Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care. She shares with us her hands-on experience and real-world situations from her very rich and diverse career and offers insights and advice for young, upcoming marketers.

Hi, Mandy, thank you for joining us in our Marketing Expert Series. Let’s kick off with some basics, can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get to where you are now?

My name is Mandy. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, truly a city marketer and not a fan of nature. Advertising and marketing are my passion and that explain my career journey of 23 years working in various marketing roles across different industries, crossing from advertising agency to automotive, property development and healthcare.

It is always fun and exciting to apply marketing ideas and strategies in a different industry.

You’re the Group Head of Marketing and Communications at Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care. What does Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care do exactly?

Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care (RSDH) is equally owned by Sime Darby Berhad and Ramsay Health Care. RSDH’s portfolio in Malaysia comprises Subang Jaya Medical Centre, Ara Damansara Medical Centre, ParkCity Medical Centre and Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre.

It also operates three hospitals in Indonesia, namely RS Premier Bintaro, RS Premier Jatinegara and RS Premier Surabaya. RSDH is steadfast in providing the highest quality patient care, committed to the tagline “People caring for people”. With cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art facilities and experienced consultants across a wide array of specialities, RSDH’s experienced healthcare team is committed to the highest quality patient care, clinical outcomes, staff and specialist well-being and stakeholder interest.

And what does your role entail? Is there a part you enjoy most?

My role in RSDH covers all aspects of corporate branding & communications, performance marketing, PR, digital marketing, contact centre and crisis management. This year, I have also been appointed as the Asia lead on corporate sustainability for RSDH.

What I enjoy most in my current role is the experience of witnessing and participating in the fast transformation of healthcare marketing pre and post-pandemic and driving the acceleration of digital marketing in the business.

I joined the healthcare industry in October 2019 right before the COVID-19 pandemic put the world went into lockdown mode in March 2020 and it lasted for more than 3-years. During the period, there were many priceless learning experiences on crisis management in the realm of healthcare where many unprecedented issues had to be managed well and timely on a weekly basis. Having the opportunity to learn and be part of the healthcare support system at a time when health services were needed the most is definitely the biggest spotlight in my career history.

What about your achievements – is there something that sticks out? A ‘most memorable’ achievement or proudest moment in your career so far?

Throughout my career journey, I always aimed to create new milestones and bring unique value to the company I worked for. I am always game to try new things and challenge the status quo where I go. There were several memorable achievements that made me proud (whenever I tell the story to my team and my son including )

  1. In UMWT (Head of Branding and CRM for Toyota & Lexus)
    Spearheaded the e-CRM project “My Owner’s portal” which was successfully launched as the first mover in the automotive industry. It sets the benchmark in digitalising customer experience bringing conventional car ownership management to the web. Hosted several unconventional and unique car launches event such as a car catwalk show on stage (showcasing the beauty of car design and manoeuvrability), cars stunt shows and parades on the Sepang F1 circuit track and more
  2. In Sunsuria (Marketing Director)
    Organised the inaugural marathon and cycling event from ground zero at the bare land of new township development and attracted over 3,000 participants in joining the event.
    Skyrocketed Sunsuria brand awareness from a new boutique developer level to one of the Top 15 developers in The Edge Property Excellence ranking positions.
  3. In RSDH (Group Head, Marketing and Communications)
    Restructured the entire Group Marketing roles and team within 6 months of joining healthcare and formalised setup of marketing supports including the transformation of manual-based support and clarity of roles between business units (hospital) and group office. Developed mid-to-long-term sustainability strategy with strong support and buy-in from RSDH Board members.

The last few years must have been a rollercoaster ride for you and your team. How did COVID-19 affect your strategies?

The COVID-19 pandemic has, without a doubt, affected the healthcare market, both directly and indirectly.

When I first joined RSDH, my priority was to look into a long overdue rebranding strategy alignment project between RSDH (parent brand) and our business units (hospital brands). However, when COVID-19 hit us we were forced to pause and even stop certain plans.

Our strategies immediately switched focus to ensure clear and fast corporate communications to all our stakeholders including our patients, senior leaders, business partners and our people.

A big part of our daily focus is on communication, communication, communication. During a time of crisis, nothing is more important than clear communication. Disseminating regular messages to our people and giving constant assurance and recognition for their sacrifices and hard work in battling the COVID-19 pandemic is a very powerful supporting force to the frontliners.

What sort of other lasting impacts do you believe the pandemic’s forced acceleration of digital transformation has had on your industry in general?

Healthcare technology existed long before COVID-19, predominantly in medical devices technology, integrated EMR and IT systems, cloud and to a certain extent artificial intelligence (AI) in some parts of the world.

For me, one of the most apparent changes from the pandemic is the shift in the stakeholder’s mindset and eagerness towards digitalisation and innovation within the entire healthcare industry particularly in the aspect of the patient journey experience.

The trend and inclination towards social media marketing is also something that will have a lasting impact post-pandemic as it now becomes a very critical aspect of the consumer decision-making process. Furthermore, the growth of social media platforms has transformed the dynamics of the electronic marketplace by creating social networks of consumers, opinion leaders, and field experts such as KOLs, social influencers, user-generated content (UGC) and more. Basically, everybody has a voice in any products and services on the world wide web and social media.

Do you think that this impact has permanently changed how you and your team go about your work? Where do you see your strategies going in the next few years?

Yes. The impact has definitely changed the dynamics and work habits nowadays. Many organisation stresses even more on performance delivery than before. New processes and policies are being reviewed and updated to ensure better business continuity measures are in place. Less paper printing and higher dependency on innovative solutions and digital platforms are basic tools required for people. Work-life balance is also crucial to ensure sanity (mental health) and productive working stamina applies to all ages of colleagues.

In the next few years, there will be a few key areas of focus in our strategies that are:

  • customer / patient first philosophy (setting new benchmark experience)
  • planet first (increase commitment to ESG agenda and ambitions)
  • strategic partnership and co-branding initiatives

Do you have any advice for young marketers?

Learn to write. Many new marketers can’t write very well nowadays. It is imperative to know good business writing. It is a skill both in high demand and short supply nowadays. Learn how to express yourself in writing precisely, intelligently, and in brief. Good writing will take you places, no matter what your role.

Explore, learn and explore. Too much of anything can become boring, so make sure you’re exploring different areas of marketing to find the area you love in your job. Be humble, dare to speak up and be willing to learn new things. There is no loss but only gain in lifelong knowledge and experience.

Marketing is about both math and creativity. It is not just about some crazy campaigns, but all ideas need to make money sense (=ROI).

It’s been great to learn more about you and your work, Mandy, thank you for sharing your insights with us. How can people connect with you if they’d like to know more about you or Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care?

Connect with me on LinkedIn.

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