Communication Breakthrough #2 with Evgenia Starkova

Evgenia Starkova

IABC EMENA member Evgenia Starkova: Independent strategic communications consultant in healthcare and medicine.

We all experience ‘lightbulb’ moments of insight or inspiration that shape how we think and work. Sometimes, they are defining moments in our careers. In our Communication Breakthrough series, our members share their stories in the hope they will inspire your own journey. Welcome to our second issue!

Introducing … Evgenia Starkova

An IABC member for almost four years, Evgenia (aka Zhenya) is a former journalist now working as an independent strategic communications consultant in the field of healthcare and medicine. She is a blogger, lecturer, and is former communications manager at the European Association of Urology.

In her story, she shares her experience on making the leap from tactical in-house communicator to independent strategic communicator.

What you do in your career, Zhenya?

Since just a year ago, I have been practicing as an independent communication consultant working in the field of medicine, medical training, healthcare policy and advocacy.

And what’s the background of your breakthrough moment?

Like many in our profession, I arrived into communication from journalism. In the period of my transformation, I was working in a medical non-profit. I was (and still am) young and ambitious. And my climb up the relatively short career ladder within the organisation proved to be a fairly easy task.

My journalistic background, curiosity and genuine interest in the topic of healthcare made it possible for me to understand the nuances of the field I was working in — and develop a sense of intuition that was invaluable in the development of many projects.

Soon after, I started to realise that my insights did not only enable me to be the voice of the company’s policy-makers and the executive board, but also become a co-creator and translator of many strategic undertakings.

Can you describe your big breakthrough moment for us?

Zhenya Starkova

Having formed a great communication team and launched several successful projects it became apparent that my strengths and special interest in the field of healthcare communication could be used across the board of many specialties and programmes.

I felt that I was ready to start working on my own and narrow my focus on the development of communication initiatives, mediation and advice, rather than execution.

On the other hand, being in my early thirties and having a relatively limited experience in a corporate setting, I wasn’t sure if my pursuit of a career of an independent consultant at this stage of my life was a wise one.

My breakthrough moment came when, while still employed, I was contacted by Russia’s largest oncology centre to help them develop a very ambitious medical training project.

I took this as a sign that I should listen to my intuition and follow my yearning for a new professional adventure — instead of just appeasing my rational mind.

Over a period of six months, in my role as a mediator between several centres and medical technology companies located internationally, I was able to help some of the world’s top opinion leaders and executives in the field to reach an agreement on cooperation and set the project in motion. All of this while we were in the middle of a Russia/Rest-of-the-world crisis!

It was empowering to be able to use my knowledge in a new setting and on a new level, and see that neither my age nor the number of years of corporate employment had any effect on the value of my contribution.

As this project now continues, I find myself involved in new roles within it. This exposure within a multi-stakeholder project brings new, unrelated, opportunities and I am excited about all the possibilities opening up for me within the field.

What lessons can you share with us?

Some of the lessons I learnt may seem trivial. One reads about them commonly on self-development blogs and other ‘over-shared’ resources: learn to recognise opportunities, know your strengths and how to leverage them, and have an unwavering belief in the success of your endeavour. And yet, they cease being tacky and become daily inspiration once you allow them to be part of your life.

Professionally, I realised that there is a lot of work for us communicators out there. Unfortunately, misunderstanding, miscommunication, cultural misalliance, pure stubbornness, assumptions and prejudice of large and small scale are not going anywhere in the near future — and our profession has the best armaments to help make the world a happier and a more sustainable place.

Connect with Zhenya
Twitter: @zhenyastarkova
LinkedIn: nl.linkedin.com/in/evgeniastarkova
Site: starkova.org
Blog: starkova.org/blog

Want to share your own story?
Drop us a line on [email protected]
We’d love to hear from you!
— IABC EMENA Board