For this Member Spotlight, we interviewed David Murdoch, Director of Communications, Industrial Operations at Genzyme, a Sanofi Company.
As Director of Communications, what areas of the business do you oversee?
I’m responsible for all communications for Genzyme’s Industrial Operations, which consist of approximately 3,000 employees across the company’s manufacturing sites as well as those within the global functions that support the entire network. Genzyme has manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts (Allston, Framingham, Northborough and Woburn), as well as in New Jersey, Washington state, and one plant in Belgium.
Do you focus on internal or external communications?
Most of my time and energy is focused on internal communications—supporting leadership in communicating directly to our employees, as well and coordinating a network of manufacturing site communications teams. But, considering that our plants maintain a visible presence in their communities, I also do some external work. We do a good deal of web work and contribute to the company’s social media platforms, but the traditionalist in me is proud to say that we still publish a quarterly print newsletter for manufacturing employees who don’t frequently have access to laptops or mobile devices. It’s still a great way to communicate!
With Sanofi’s acquisition of Genzyme, how is the communications structure set up?
Genzyme is a global company, and since we are owned by Sanofi, there are multiple communications teams across the organization, which are not always intuitive to navigate. I’m part of the Industrial Operations team, but I work very closely with Genzyme’s Corporate Communications team. There is also a Global Communications team for Sanofi in Paris and a North America regional team in New Jersey. Despite this complexity, we all work together very well, and there is always a willingness to collaborate in communicating effectively and doing what’s best for the company and our stakeholders.
How do you maneuver through the approval cycles?
I’m a bit lucky in that I don’t usually work on product-related material that must go through a stringent review process by legal, medical and regulatory colleagues. However, because we have to assume anything we produce will reach the outside world, we need to be very mindful of our content. I work very closely with my legal and corporate colleagues, and we each have a good idea of what to expect from one another, and that relationship helps keep the process flowing smoothly. Also, it always helps to have a time cushion in case the review process takes longer than you expect!
Genzyme does such meaningful work–it must be easy to communicate its story with passion.
One of the things that makes Genzyme unique is the focus it has on the patients that benefit from our therapies. If you walk into any of our buildings, you’ll see wall-size images of patients, and they frequently come and visit to talk about their disease and how our products have helped change their lives. As you can imagine, nothing is more inspiring. Because many of our drugs treat patient populations of less than 10,000 people globally, we have a strong personal connection to these people and their families and also understand the responsibility we bear to help them stay healthy.
Why is your IABC membership important to you?
I’ve been a member since I began working in Corporate Communications in 2003 (I previously worked in publishing), and it’s been an essential network in terms of finding colleagues with similar interests, as well as identifying job candidates and meeting members who may be able to help me with my own career. The IABC conferences have been very helpful, especially early in my career when I knew little to nothing about communication strategy.
What activities outside of work do you enjoy?
I frequently play basketball, as it helps me get in a good workout, relieve stress and take my mind off of work. And while I can’t recall the last book I finished, I do a great deal of reading of newspapers, magazines and online content not only to learn about the world around me, but also to see how experts are able to engage audiences and communicate effectively.