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Henry Newkirk on the Impact of COVID-19



Henry Newkirk

Henry Newkirk (also known as Hank Newkirk) was born and raised in New Haven, Indiana. After studying psychology at Indiana University and graduating with a Bachelor’s in Science, Newkirk continued his academic career at the University of St. Francis’ physician’s assistant program.

Although Henry Newkirk had initially planned to work directly in healthcare, he soon realized that his unique skills were best applied in auxiliary areas. Driven by his passion for patient care, Newkirk shifted his focus to the pharmaceutical industry where he would come to build a phenomenally successful career in sales.

After more than a decade of experience in the field, Henry Newkirk has worked with a broad range of pharmaceutical companies, holding both sales and training roles. Over the years, his success has been acknowledged through several awards; the most prestigious of which was his winning of the President’s Club while working for Janssen Therapeutics.

Henry Newkirk is currently based out of Valparaiso, Indiana, where he serves as Shire’s executive sales specialist. Above all, his driving force is compassion and the desire to better the life quality of others.


How has your industry been impacted regarding COVID-19?

 The current pandemic has affected industries across the board, but no sector has been impacted quite as notably as the pharmaceutical industry. When the virus first emerged, we saw massive upticks in demand for medication due to the widespread uncertainty about future availability.

Now, as the pandemic continues to progress and that initial panic subsides, there’s a reinvigorated focus on developing a vaccine. Above all, it’s clear that COVID-19 has served to prioritize pharmaceutical research and development on a global scale; while many industries are certainly struggling beneath the weight of the current pandemic, the pharmaceutical industry shows no signs of slowing down.


What keeps you motivated during this time at home?

What keeps me motivated during this time at home is the same thing that kept me motivated before COVID-19: my passion for improving other people’s lives. As someone who works in the pharmaceutical industry, the overarching purpose of my career is to bring value to my clients.

Day-to-day, this means finding effective avenues to help them provide excellent care for their patients. The onset of COVID-19 has created a significant need in the world of healthcare, which has given me even more motivation to provide my clients with solutions for optimal patient support. To put it simply, what keeps me motivated in this turbulent time is the powerful knowledge that I’m truly able to make a difference.


What are some suggestions you have for others to cope during this time?

The onset of the current pandemic marked the start of extremely uncertain times. It’s nearly impossible to imagine how our futures will look, which understandably causes some fear and anxiety. To cope with that fear, I work consciously to embrace uncertainty as an opportunity for growth.

In a broad sense, this means cultivating an opportunistic mindset. On a day-to-day basis, it means setting measurable goals that challenge me to be better than I was the day before. We may not be able to change the situation as a whole, but we can still find peace and power by claiming ownership of our own betterment and doing what we can to improve the lives of others.


How does working remotely change how businesses can support their customers?

Working in pharmaceutical sales, I spend most of my day in conversation with my clients, trying to learn how I can best meet their needs and deliver value to their patients. Like many professionals, I’ve shifted these meetings to online platforms and phone calls due to threats associated with the current pandemic.

While many would view the shift as a setback, I’ve harnessed its power to benefit both myself and the individuals I work with. I think a lot of businesses are learning that, although in-person meetings do offer a certain appeal, remote communication allows for more availability and convenience. For me, this means being more accessible to my clients and more receptive to their needs.


What advice would you give to fellow businesses who may be struggling during COVID-19?

Centralize your focus on your customers’ needs and fully dedicate your efforts to meeting those needs. It might sound counter-intuitive, but truly successful businesses do not focus on sales; they focus on learning where the need is and providing an effective solution. As a pharmaceutical salesperson, I’ve found the best results come with a dedicated approach to delivering value. When I ask for business, I’m not selling a product — I’m motivating behavior change that’s going to drastically improve lives.

In contrast, a lot of struggling businesses right now are trying to figure out how to effectively sell a service or a product that is no longer needed. COVID-19 has changed just about everything; consumer needs have shifted, too. Instead of trying new marketing methods, these companies should pivot their focus to identifying evolving needs and finding effective routes to fulfill them.


What are some things outside of finding work that you are doing now to stay busy?

I’m a big believer in the power of physical activity and time spent outdoors. Whenever possible, I try to get out of the house and into nature, especially for a day of fishing or hiking with my wife and two kids. Although I admit I’m no pro, I also really enjoy an occasional game of golf. When I’m not working, getting active outside, or spending time with my kids, I’m rooting on the Chicago Bears. I say it every season, but I’m certain this year they’ll win the Super Bowl.


Do you think a work and life balance is important and how difficult is it to achieve in these circumstances?

Work-life balance isn’t just essential for mental health, it’s also fundamental in professional advancement. We’re living right now in a productivity-centered society — nothing is praised more than hard work and long hours. But effective work requires energy and energy requires rest and relaxation.

Like many, working remotely means I no longer have a physical separation between my workspace and my home. Initially, this made it a little harder to achieve a healthy work-life balance. With some mindfulness and task-management techniques; however, I’ve been able to maintain stability. I’ve also found that keeping strict working hours has helped me create a mental barrier between my personal life and my professional life, even in the absence of physical differentiation.

What is one piece of advice that is getting you through these current times?

Jordan Belfort once said, “Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that: intentions.” I’ve always held this quote close to my heart, but it’s taken on a new meaning for me amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re faced with so much uncertainty right now. Instead of panicking, I find power and stability in embracing action. For me, this means continuing to work hard and provide my clients with solutions that help them improve their patients’ lives in these uncertain times. I may not have control over the pandemic, but I can harness the power of my own actions to make the world a better place.

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