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Agnes Brandt

Agnes Brandt, Associate Director

Incisive Health

agnes.brandt@incisivehealth.com

My Job

At Incisive Health we are specialists in health policy and communications. Together with my colleagues in Brussels and London, I support my clients in making a positive difference in health policy at EU and national level. We pride ourselves in delivering results that truly matter to our clients – for the benefit of patients across Europe.

In my current role, I manage a variety of programmes spanning from vaccines to oncology and rare diseases to patient involvement and capacity building. Outside of my client work, I lead our marketing activities in Brussels, ensure the smooth operation of our growing team together with our Managing Director and manage more junior team members.

My Experience

I came to Brussels seven years ago in order to make a difference in EU health and climate policy. I was leaving behind an academic research career in Germany and New Zealand, where I was working on how politics intersect with socio-cultural and economic diversity and people’s lived experiences. This led me to look into issues such as public health and the impact of the environment on people’s lives – and, finally, to Brussels.

Before joining Incisive Health as a health policy and communication specialist, I worked as the head of office and advisor on health and climate policy to MEP Matthias Groote in his role as chair of the ENVI committee in the European Parliament, as a climate policy advocate for a leading NGO, as a freelance consultant in international social health studies as well as a researcher and lecturer in Pacific and Social Anthropology at some of the most prestigious universities in Germany and New Zealand.

Over the past years, I have turned my attention to the delivery of real policy change which I have pursued by designing and leading a range of campaigns and initiatives at EU, national and international level. I am passionate about bringing the right people together at the right time in order to make a difference and I am pleased to do so in my day-to-day work.

My Proudest Achievements

I am proud to have worked hand in hand with our Managing Director in the setting up of Incisive Health Brussels. By ‘being out there’ and staying on top of what’s happening inside the bubble as well as outside of it, we have been able to attract exciting projects and to deliver impactful programmes. As a result, we grew our office from initially two consultants to a team of ten in a little more than two years. I learned a great deal about the tricks of our trade and I am thankful for this journey, which has been inspiring as well as rewarding. I am particularly grateful to our Founding Partners and the team in London and Brussels for their support – and of course to our clients who trusted us to deliver their work.

Looking back over the past years, I take pride in playing my part in the successful shaping of EU policy, from my very first day in Brussels, when I was thrown into the EU ETS backloading mess, which we successfully sorted after the file had been sent back to the Committee to re-consider. Since then, I have played my part, from negotiating more meaningful CO2 reductions to finding partners for the launch of new initiatives aimed at accelerating access to medicines. A special achievement, and perhaps the one that affected me the most at a personal level, is my PhD research on the politics of indigenous and non-indigenous relations, which saw me sit through hours and hours of negotiations on a Maori marae (the ceremonial centre of indigenous New Zealanders’ political life) – a skill that proved to be highly useful for sitting through late night trilogues in Brussels. Above all, it taught me a great deal about how to successfully navigate difference and about how to truly think outside the box.

My Education

I hold a Master’s degree (M.A.) from the Free University Berlin and a Doctorate degree (Dr. Phil.) in Social Anthropology from Freiburg University in Germany. Part of my post-graduate studies I conducted at Auckland University and Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

My Languages

My working languages are English, German and French. Beyond these, I continuously improve my Spanish skills and – fun fact – I have a pretty good grasp of the Maori language.

My Interests outside work

I enjoy connecting with people, their lives and passions, which has guided me throughout my personal as well as professional life. I love to explore new places and I relax through yoga, in nature or over coffee with friends. Books continue to take an important place in my life and while I don’t see enough of it these days, I do have a great love for the arts.

My biggest passion however remains chocolate. I like to think that coming here was in my stars, really, and I have used the past years to memorise the names of all of my favourite pralines and to explore what’s hot and coming in chocolate art.

Luckily, Brussels has it all!

My Favourite Brussels anecdote

Brussels is full of stories, of course, and the social scientist in me keeps pondering over what it all means in the end. What most of these stories tell us is that we are in it together – this great European project –, and that people do achieve great things if they manage to overcome their differences. In the end, it is about creating connections.

In my case, it is all about connecting the dots: Brussels is the place where a Greek wedding not only led to incredible friendships and extensive summers spent on Greek islands, but also to meeting ‘that guy’, who happens to be from the deep South of Spain, which in turn led me to beat the drums at the Sevillian flamenco festival with a fabulous Australian woman draped in a dramatic pink dress who – so it turned out – used to go to the same Australian high-school as my 16-year-old self and therefore shares some old friends with me!

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