Merkle

Our Team

The Merkle Life Sciences leadership team has deep experience in healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations, encompassing multiple therapeutic categories, coupled with client, agency, and research backgrounds. Our teams are comprised of seasoned industry executives with track records in integrated healthcare marketing. They understand client challenges as well as opportunities. We understand the culture, the shift toward customer centricity, and the challenges in engaging and communicating with healthcare providers and prospects around the pharmaceutical industry. Merkle’s “Customer Centric” value proposition has been growing in the healthcare industry over the last 40 months as we have infused 20+ years of direct-to-consumer best practices from outside of the healthcare vertical coupled with our team’s deep healthcare knowledge.

John Lee

John Lee

Executive Vice President, Vertical Markets

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John leads Merkle’s industry practices in Insurance and Wealth Management, Life Sciences, and Travel, Media, and Entertainment. John has more than 16 years of agency, management consulting, and industry-side experience in digital media, marketing strategy, technology, and analytics. John has been a part of the senior management team since 2008 and currently serves on Merkle’s executive committee.

Prior to joining Merkle, John played executive roles in marketing, distribution and technology in Liberty Mutual’s Personal Markets division. He was previously a senior manager in CapGemini’s Financial Services consulting practice. John has also held agency management positions with Razorfish and Rapp Collins Worldwide. Some of John’s most significant clients have included MetLife, Travelers, WellPoint, American Express, US Bank, GlaxoSmithkline, and AARP.

John is a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College and lives in Wellesley, MA.


Deb Furey

VP, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Deb has more than 15 years of experience working with FT500 companies to drive growth through innovative customer relationship strategies. Deb is responsible for healthcare client management, strategy and solution integration and has significant experience working with top pharmaceuticals and biotechs on professional and consumer marketing with companies such as Merck, Boehringer-Inglelheim, Sanofi-Aventis, Shire, Abbott, Roche Diagnostics, Medco Health, Aetna, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Pfizer.

Prior to joining Merkle, Deb was a Managing Partner leading Fair Isaac’s Pharmaceutical Marketing Practice where she oversaw strategy, execution, sales and client management for Consumer and Physician direct marketing programs. Deb has an Ed.M. in human cognitive development and educational media from Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.S. from University of Massachusetts.


Ashish Kathuria

Ashish Kathuria

VP, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Ashish has 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and management consulting. For the past three years, he has been leading Merkle’s foray into customer centricity and multi-channel marketing in the healthcare industry. He has led strategic assignments with key clients in the healthcare industry, leveraging Merkle’s core strengths: strategy, CRM/database technology and analytics.

Prior to joining Merkle, Ashish served as a Vice President of Analytics at HPR (Health Products Research) and Sr. Vice President of Strategy and Global Alliances at inVentiv Strategy and Analytics (parent group of HPR). In that role, he advised a large range of pharmaceutical companies in the U.S., Europe and Canada on sales force size and structure, portfolio optimization, sales force mergers, market segmentation, promotion response, and incentive compensation and ROI analysis.

Ashish has published papers in pharmaceutical industry publications e.g. Product Management Today (PMT) and presented at industry conferences – PMSA (Pharmaceutical Marketing Science Association) and EyeforPharma conference.


Kent Groves

Kent Groves, PhD

VP, Client Leadership Group, Life Sciences

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Kent has been consulting in healthcare for more than 10 years in the areas of healthcare provider segmentation, brand channel integration, CRM, marketing analytics and direct-to-consumer. Kent is published extensively in a variety of journals including, Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, Formulary, the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, and the Journal of Database Marketing. Kent is recognized as an expert in the area of factors influencing physician prescribing, and was the author of the chapter on Prescribing Behavior in Social and Behavioral Aspects of Pharmaceutical Care, 2nd Edition, released in March, 2009.

Kent has worked with a number of clients in the healthcare vertical including Sanofi Aventis, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Genetech, Gilead, Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble.

Kent has a BS from the University of Guelph, an MS from the University of Saskatchewan, and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Strategy and Policy from Dalhousie University. His PhD dissertation focused on the influence of pharmaceutical marketing strategy on physician prescribing behavior. Additionally, he holds the position of Adjunct Professor, College of Pharmacy, Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a former Professor of Marketing at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and holds the designation of Chartered Chemist.


Rita Stevens

Sr. Director, Enterprise Strategy

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Rita joined Merkle in 2009 with more than10 years experience in pharmaceutical insight mining and strategic development. Prior to joining Merkle, Rita held senior positions in the Business Insights and Commercial Analytics organizations at Endo Pharmaceuticals, a smaller specialty pharmaceutical company and at GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceuticals. In both companies, Rita worked directly with the marketing and sales organizations as well as the broad commercial operations group.

Rita has experience in strategy and promotion development for brands ranging from billion-dollar assets with broad direct-to-consumer programs to under 100-million-dollar assets with smaller budgeted promotional efforts. She has worked on 7 product launches in her pharmaceutical career.

Rita has a BA in Mathematical Economics and a MA in Economics.


Croom Lawrence

Croom Lawrence

Sr. Director

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For more than 16 years, Croom has led integrated customer relationship marketing engagements that have driven growth for Fortune 500 companies, particularly for pharmaceuticals, biologics, medical device, and health food brands. He recently joined Merkle as the Customer Experience Lead in Life Sciences.

Croom is recognized as one of the pharma industry's most innovative marketers. He has helped brands at all stages achieve new trajectories in growth by identifying research-based insights, delivering breakthrough creative, changing patient behavior and improving health outcomes through effective marketing interventions.

Croom was one of the founding members of the Strategy & Insights group at Wunderman, DC, an early member of the Consumer Communications and e-Marketing groups at Wyeth/ Pfizer, Merck & Co, and the digital communications COE at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, a pioneer in patient relationship marketing through paid, earned, owned and shared channels. He is one of the founding members of the Health Committee of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

He holds an MBA in marketing from the American Graduate School of International Management, and a BA in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia.