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Trendsetters: CSL Limited's Anthony Farina Talks About Transforming Communications for a Global Biopharmaceutical Giant
Few marketers have the opportunity to introduce a well-established, but little-known, company to the world. Anthony Farina is building the global communications function at CSL Limited from the ground up and is working internally and externally to portray a global organization that's literally saving lives through the development of biotherapies to treat rare and serious diseases. He's doing it with both refreshing genuineness and a new level of personalization that's only possible in a digital age. CSL Limited owns global biotherapeutics leader CSL Behring and Seqirus, the world's no. 2 influenza vaccine provider.
As CSL's first-ever Chief Communications Officer & Vice President of Corporate Affairs, he often mentions a comment made by his CEO: "We're the biggest company that no one has ever heard of." However, Anthony Farina is driven to change those words through an extraordinary emphasis on patient engagement.
The CSL Behring story is fascinating given the company's 100 year-old history, a founder-- Emil von Behring-- who won the first Nobel Prize for Medicine, and early roots in providing vaccines for the people of Australia. Equally remarkable is the company's current growth trajectory and its hiring escalation. Today, CSL's footprint is in over 60 countries and the organization boasts more than 17,000 employees.
Anthony Farina attributes much of the company's contemporary development to the improved diagnosis of diseases at a time when people avidly search the web to learn more about their symptoms. CSL Behring's focus on the treatment of rare and serious conditions includes bleeding disorders like hemophilia and von Willebrand disease, Rh factor incompatibilities, immune deficiencies and inherited respiratory disease, as well as biotherapies used in critical care to treat shock, sepsis, severe burns, and wound healing.
He says, "As more people are diagnosed properly, they want our therapies to lead normal lives. More than 75 percent of the people who are stricken with hemophilia in the world are not receiving treatment. Physicians are typically trained to look for common diseases or basic ailments. In others words, when they hear hoof beats, they think horses, not zebras. Patients now gather information online about their conditions, and they talk with doctors to describe what they think their symptoms could mean. In fact, the vast majority of internet searches are by individuals seeking information relating to healthcare and illnesses. This is a huge paradigm shift within the medical and pharmaceutical industries from doing ‘for' patients to now doing ‘with' patients."
As a result, Anthony Farina stresses, "I'm here to deliver for our patients. After all, what's more important than saving lives?"
He also clearly understands how digital technology can help patients learn more, create meaningful conversations, bridge knowledge gaps, and promote opportunities for greater interaction. "We want to tell our story to more patients, so they know about the medicines that are available and can get the diagnoses they need. Delivering on our promise to patients is embedded in our culture.
As I visit our facilities throughout the world, it's hard to ignore that our walls are covered-- not with art--but with large photos of our patients. They remind us how we must strive to make a difference in their lives."
The next step in Mr. Farina's marketing journey is to create a personalized digital experience that is reflective of CSL's brand promise. "We want to engage with the patient communities in way that goes well beyond providing product. If a patient is looking for content on a rare or serious condition, we want them come to us as a go-to source for information. Our mission is to help them in their search for a diagnosis, therapies or even advocacy. My job is to stay true to a patient's needs."
As the first Chief Communications Officer for 100-year-old global biopharmaceutical firm CSL, Anthony Farina leads strategic communications, brand management and corporate social responsibility initiatives. He is accountable for building, protecting and defending CSL's reputation with key stakeholders and influencers around the world as the company saves lives and improves the quality of lives by applying its science to treating rare and serious diseases.
Prior to CSL, he worked as the Head of Global Public Affairs & Director of Corporate Communications for DuPont as it transitioned from a chemical company to a science company. Under his leadership, DuPont earned several communications recognitions, including several of PRSA's “Silver Anvil Awards,” and progressively advanced in a number of leading global reputation indicators, including FORTUNE magazine's Top 50 "Most Admired Companies" list.