Ruth Whittington - Medicine Woman with a Prescription for Success; Ruth Whittington Tells David Jones How She Has Used Eclectic Career Experience to Run Her Own Successful Business

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Byline: David Jones

RUTH Whittington has packed several jobs, professions and vocations into her 47 years -- nurse, lecturer, researcher, scientist, sales representative and, more latterly, business woman and mother.

The list isn't exhaustive, and Whittington admits she still relishes a challenge, despite all she's achieved so far.

Hers is a career path which has led her from her native New Zealand to England and then to North Wales where her medical communications company Rx Communications is based and is making its mark.

``I have had a number of careers, but I know I will move onto to something else, '' she said.

``There are lots of things I would like to do. I want to spend more time with my family back in New Zealand and I want to learn new languages.

``In five years time the business will probably be sold on or owned by its employees. My aim is to grow it to five times its present size and then to look for an initial public offering (IPO) or buyout. It will be a great challenge to let go of it, but I will look to do something else in business. Life is all about challenges. ''

Rx was started by Whittington in November 2000. The name of the business has, it transpires, a double significance: ``It is what a doctor first writes when he makes out a prescription. It is also the shorthand way I sign my name -- an R with a kiss.

``It's also appropriate, in a way, because the medical profession seems to like using names with either an x or a z in them. ''

She came to the UK with her former employer, medical publishing company Ad is International, based at Tattenhall, near Chester. She travelled from the antipodes to help the firm work on a drug evaluation programme, before moving into sales and marketing and then into trouble shooting.

From a job as an intensive care nurse in New Zealand, she went on to university to study biochemistry and physiology. Subsequently she saw a job advertised at a local polytechnic and joined as a lecturer in sport and health sciences. She was doing her Ph D part-time when she heard Ad is was recruiting and she joined, intending it to be a short-term appointment, and ended up staying and travelling to the UK.

She used pounds 5, 000 of her own money to get Rx up and running from the dining room of her home. The business moved to Nercwys, near Mold, and last month moved again, to roomier premises in Mold town centre, to accommodate a rapid expansion.

From those small beginnings, Rx has grown into a fully-fledged operation, acting as a preferred supplier to a number of leading pharmaceutical companies.

Over the past 12 months employment in the business has grown from six to 16 and turnover has climbed steeply to just under pounds 1m. Whittington concedes the rate of expansion, though not its success, took her by surprise.

``No, I did not think Rx would grow as quickly as it has. I am always surprised -- pleasantly surprised -- that we are actually achieving our aims.

``By the end of the year we should have 20 staff and by the end of next year 35. Last year we grew by 85% and we aim to keep that up with 100% growth next year, '' she said.

``We looked at premises as far as Wrexham and Ewloe for our latest move, but those areas were miles more expensive and we were very happy to find these premises in Mold. We think it is an ideal situation. It felt right to us.

``Our competitors are based in London, Oxford and Macclesfield. But we could be located anywhere as long as it has a good road to the airport and good, broad band telecommunications. ''

The company specialises in medical writing, strategy, customised projects and project management for global pharmaceutical companies such as Astra Zeneca, Eli Lilly and Glaxo Smith Kline. …