Smeal alumnus shares pharmaceutical industry experience with marketing class

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Smeal College of Business alumnus Tim R. Garde, Class of 1978, accounting, joined students in Jennifer Coupland’s Marketing 422 Advertising and Promotions Management course last month to talk about issues specific to the pharmaceutical industry. Garde currently serves as managing partner of Star Group and Star Life Sciences, the life sciences communications arm of Star Group. Star Group is a diversified marketing communications company with national and international footprint servicing a variety of industries.

Coupland, clinical associate professor of marketing and the Paiste Fellow in Teaching and Learning, brought in several speakers for her class throughout the semester to expose students to a wide variety of marketing industries and professions.

“I think hearing industry representatives really benefits the students through providing a better understanding of what professional life might be like after graduation,” said Coupland. “It’s also impactful for students to hear direct experiences of our alumni who have gone on to do great things, so I’m appreciative that Timmy was willing to share his time with us.”

“I think hearing industry representatives really benefits the students through providing a better understanding of what professional life might be like after graduation.”

-- Jennifer Coupland, Paiste Fellow in Teaching and Learning, Smeal College of Business

One of Garde’s primary messages to students was the importance of a dedicated digital strategy in reaching targeted customers.

“Digital is the fastest growing communications vehicle for health care professional and consumer education about disease states as well as therapies and conditions,” Garde told the class.

But while digital offers a huge opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry, it also brings with it many challenges. The pharmaceutical industry, he explained, is heavily regulated and the constantly changing nature of the Internet can make it difficult for regulators to keep up.

Garde ended his talk by telling students about the process of developing a marketing plan for a new pharmaceutical product, explaining that to tailor messages to the appropriate community, they have to understand the marketplace as well as the attitudes and behaviors of both physicians and patients.

While on campus, Garde also announced some good news for his company. In mid-April, Star Group officially merged with fellow health care marketing agencies Vox Medica — including parent company Independence Healthcom Strategies Group—and Calcium NYC. Garde will become the chief operating officer of this new entity.

“Our highly complementary strengths allow us to put numbers on the board for our clients immediately,” said Garde in a press release about the merger.

Garde is an active alumnus within the Smeal College. He serves on the Smeal Alumni Society Board and has been involved with planning recent Impact Smeal Days, opportunities for alumni to come back to campus to interact with faculty and staff, students and each other. He also recently established the Tim R. Garde Trustee Scholarship, which aims to provide financial support to deserving Smeal students.

About undergraduate education at Smeal
The Smeal College of Business offers undergraduate majors and minors that span the business spectrum, preparing students for a business world that is complex, global and diverse. Smeal undergraduate students have access to dozens of student organizations and involvement opportunities, study abroad partnerships around the world, and personalized career planning and academic advising services to help them thrive at Smeal and in their careers. Learn more at

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Last Updated May 28, 2014