Marketing Visionary: Janice Furie of Celgene

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Janice Furie is the Associate Director, Channel Strategy at Celgene, a global biotechnology company that discovers, develops and brings to market medicines for cancer and other diseases with innovative, life saving drugs. At Celgene, Janice has transformed and reimagined the entire customer experience, so that information is easily accessible, relevant, and personalized (no small feat in a heavily regulated industry.)

Janice’s forward thinking and creativity enabled her to tap into an unmet opportunity, leading to the development of an industry first scientific gateway, with open clinical trial searches and all internal therapeutic areas research. Janice’s agile first mindset – paired with her data driven approach make her a true marketing visionary.

Here’s how Janice influences change and guides decisions at Celgene.

1. SketchDeck: Janice – what’s the first thing you do when you come into work?

I have a zen garden at my desk. I do a minute of breathing, make a cup of chai tea and as I rake the garden, think about what I am going to bring to my day to make it purposeful and fun.

2. SketchDeck: As Associate Director of Digital Strategy and Innovation at Celgene, what’s the most challenging part of your role? And what’s the most rewarding?

Challenging the status quo is the most challenging. Many people embrace what they are comfortable with because it’s safe.  I’ve learned the hard way, that to change behaviors, first you have to build trust. That means, building relationships and having some successes under your belt.  Gaining that trust has been the most rewarding.

3. SketchDeck: How many unread emails do you currently have?

No unread emails. I am quite OCD about that.  During the peak time of the day, it might increase to 20-40, but I am on top of that by close of business each day.  “Clear inbox, clear mind”

4. SketchDeck: What tools do you find indispensable for marketing and communications?

It goes without saying that you must know your customer(s) well or you won’t be able to deliver the relevant experience they are looking for. Collecting and actioning data and insights is indispensable (GoogleAnalytics, CrazyEgg, ClickTale)

5. SketchDeck: What marketing campaign (internal or external) are you most proud of? Can you share the creative and explain the thinking behind it?

We just launched a scientific website ( that combines all of our research in one scientific gateway.

What’s most exciting and remarkable is that we will be pushing boundaries in how we communicate with physicians by offering worldwide clinical trials, even competitive clinical trials and developing content that is more transparent. We just launched phase 1 at ASCO and a few weeks in we have sustained a good amount of daily traffic.

I’m most proud of Celgene embracing the idea of transparency, it was bold decision and as far as I know we are the first in pharma to have clinical trials available for search. I’m also so proud of all the collaboration and hard work many people put into this initiative, from leadership down.  This could never had been done without a village and that village is smart and fun.

6. How does SketchDeck help you and your team at Celgene?

“SketchDeck has helped me with logo creation and PowerPoint presentations. The turnaround is quick and I have yet to have multiple rounds as it’s just what I asked for!”

7. SketchDeck: Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most?

My influences range from spiritual/self help (Pema Chodron, Michael Singer) to strong people around me, who show grace, courage and empathy during tough times.  Working at Celgene, you meet and hear of people battling Cancer and coming to work to keep pushing to help others.  That’s where my admiration goes.

8. SketchDeck: Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

It wasn’t as much a who as a what.  I am a driver personality and I was getting frustrated with the outdated thinking in pharma.  A few years ago, digital was a nice to have on a budget.  I have fought for SEM with brand leads many times in the past. It’s great to finally see that from the top down, digital has finally become a need to have in pharma.

9. SketchDeck: How do you find a work/life balance?

For me it goes back to the email inbox question.  I’m very OCD/organized and that allows me to disconnect most of the time at a reasonable hour. I love what I do, so my mind will keep thinking after my laptop is closed, but that’s a good thing because ideas are generated and then when I am back at work I can try and bring them to life.

10. SketchDeck: Do you have a marketing hack you can share?

I can share some character traits that are essential: Challenge current beliefs, push boundaries, create what a great customer experience looks like and do it, set your KPIs, test, learn and optimize.

11. SketchDeck: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The most important decisions are the hardest.  Feel comfortable with that pain so you do what you know is right.

12. SketchDeck: How do you deal – and keep up with- the rapid changes in marketing?

I read a lot of business books for leisure. I also look outside of the pharmaceutical/biotech industry to see how I can pull in their customer experiences into a regulated industry.  Banking, another regulated industry has done a great job with customer focused personalized experiences.

13. SketchDeck: And how do you manage resource constraints?

Celgene is a lean organization.  Organization and prioritization – doing 50 things halfway will never yield great results.  It also helps tremendously that I am passionate about what I do, so working hard isn’t a chore.

14. SketchDeck: What are 3 apps you recommend to friends?

For iPhone users, like me, Google Duo allows facetiming with the Android friends I have.  Calm or headspace for guided meditation when I can’t do it on my own.

15. SketchDeck: What is a product or company you think is really well marketed (ideally not in tech) Why do you think their marketing is great?

Amex has done a great job with Open Forum, it’s a collaborative site where guests share their business expertise.  This creates evergreen content that gets them high up in search results…..for free.

Content is king and they found a way to get it for free, while providing relevant information to their customers.


*The above are the opinions of Janice Furie and in no terms represent the viewpoints or opinion of Celgene.

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