Sustainable growth in 2022: Powering the future of science

July 1, 2022

'Sustainable what? The world-s expectations on science and pharmaceutical companies have never been greater. As society evolves, more people gain access to better healthcare and demand for medicines increases. The Pharmaceutical industry is at the cutting edge of innovation, playing a central role in combating healthcare inequality, while managing the ever-increasing demand for development and approval of new medicines. All this has resulted in significant investment, which is driving innovation and therefore growth. But there's a problem. Leadership teams are now under pressure to implement workforces that can propel growth into 2022. Finding the right people to fulfil those roles, however, is proving challenging. Accelerated expansion plans are rarely aligned to the external workforce available. This, mixed with the challenges of a steep hiring forecast and tight timelines, can pose a real threat to an organisation's growth. In this situation, the likelihood of rushed recruitment increases as leadership and HR try to solve the problem quickly. This is expensive and often results in mismatched hires. So how can pharmaceutical businesses become more effective at attracting and engaging the talent they really need to meet their growth aspirations? The solution, in our eyes, is taking the lead with a talent plan that is far above the industry standard, creating a level of predictability with your talent and your growth. In this, the first of three articles, we'll be exploring sustainable growth, and the role it has to play in powering the future of science. The series was written by talent acquisition specialists of Vector Partners, Neil Kelly and Peter Cseres. They both have extensive experience having worked as global talent acquisition leads, with Neil having deep knowledge of rapidly growing companies in the Pharma industry.

Where is everyone? There's no denying that the current availability of talent in the sciences market is strained. In some regions, it now stands at a critical point. For example, in the UK, science industry vacancies in the final quarter of 2021 were double (118%) what they were the previous year. (1) And yet, between 2010 and 2018, the total number of students enrolled in STEM undergraduate courses in the UK increased by just 17%. (2) The deficit of graduates now entering the job market is clear. So much so, tackling the shortage of STEM skills is one of the objectives of the UK Government's Plan for Growth. And we can observe similar trends in the EU and US markets. The European Commission-s 2002 European Skills Agenda includes specific actions to increase graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects, specifically -increasing STEM graduates and fostering entrepreneurial and transversal skills.- (3)In the US, employment in the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry is expected to grow by roughly 19% between 2019 - 2029. (4) And yet, -for every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees, only one is hired into a STEM job.- (5)This increase in vacant roles and growth in Pharma has come in part due to the pressure of Covid-19, but also as a natural evolution of a growing world population with greater access to healthcare. As both the global population and mobility of people increases, the risk of disease continues to grow and diversify. Similarly, the move towards personalised medicines also increases demand. Highly targeted and patient-centric approaches are now being used during drug development, requiring a greater need for small production volume teams with multi-disciplinary skill sets. (6) It all culminates in pressure on the industry to produce more medicines, vaccines and treatments, resulting in a global requirement for the specific talent needed to drive growth in the sector.Thanks to increased investment, there are now more scientific start-ups than ever before. These start-ups, if successful, will expect to expand rapidly. Simultaneously, within Big Pharma companies previously, internal talent development programs were common. But with the advent of new technologies and the skills they require, more and more organisations are looking to external hiring to fill roles. This is putting significant pressure on the availability of talent at a time when supply is low. These problems are exacerbated by common hiring challenges. Slow processes, hit and miss results and poor data are frustrating to leadership teams looking to grow their businesses with the right people.

The biggest factor limiting growth As a consequence the number one pressure on many leaders in the Pharma industry is now talent. The main issue? Where to find the people who can help to grow the business. We've been in this position, and without a fully fledged HR or talent team, the temptation is to hire through personal recommendations or relationships. If this route fails, job descriptions are listed on LinkedIn and recruitment agencies are mandated. All too often, hiring processes are started far too late, with the danger being that many agencies are generalists, hiring locally, across multiple industries. Even the reputable firms often don't fully grasp the real challenges the science industries face. The end result? Valuable time is lost, roles remain vacant, expensive mismatched hires fail, and the business misses vital revenue opportunities. Multiply this across tens or hundreds of roles within an organisation, especially those in leadership roles, and we really start to see the scale of the problem. Ultimately, not finding people who are aligned to the business- needs is the biggest factor limiting growth.

What's our solution? Our ambition is for you to understand your next move with your workforce, hiring and managing your talent intentionally, and understanding the skills and competence you need to fuel your growth. This approach will take your hiring to the next level. Imagine hiring more people, faster, without increasing your recruitment budget. We work with you to assess your current recruitment activities and make them much more effective and efficient, saving you time and money. Our methods are agile and fast-paced, with our objectives focused on hitting the most pressing elements to your business at that moment, whether that-s a need for senior leaders or defining the skills required to drive a greater production yield. Historically, within scientific roles of development, supply chain, quality or production, pharmaceutical experience has been necessary. Our partnership will educate and guide the business to show that other options are available when designing the talent needed. Identifying cultural fit is critical in today's market. When hiring leaders and C Suite talent, the trick is to think laterally. We know from experience that good leaders needn't always come from within the CDMO or even the Pharma market. Hiring people from other industries can both ease this pressure and bring surprising advantages in terms of transferable skills. Diverse talent creates many options for an organisation, not only as a talent pool not previously explored, but also new viewpoints and fresh ideas. For example, Supply Chain Management or Finance Directors can be lifted from within the FMCG market. Similarly, the food industry is also highly regulated and was traditionally batch-focused, creating a fertile ground for transferable skills. (7)

The key to sustainable growth. We focus on finding the most skilled and compatible hire for the job today and the company long-term; the person who will create the greatest value as an employee, and grow with the business. Sustainable recruitment is about aligning future business strategy to talent acquisition delivery. In other words, being one step ahead, whilst maintaining a Lean-Agile Mindset, leveraging and embracing technology and automation where appropriate. This requires both in-depth knowledge and experience in talent acquisition, alongside constant innovation that can keep pace with what is coming next in the Pharma industry.It-s then an ongoing process of building and maintaining an environment that nurtures your talent for the long term, beyond their entry point. Collectively, this process creates a talent approach that is not only empowered by the business- purpose and objectives, but one that is ready to take on whatever the future may bring.In the next edition of our three-part series, we'll be exploring specific strategies to achieve hiring for fit and sustainable growth. To subscribe to the next two chapters in this series, follow us on LinkedIn.

- At Vector Partners, we understand the Pharma market. Both Neil and Peter have created large-scale talent strategies at all sizes, building organisations and recruiting thousands of employees. We are laser focused on our clients- success, and building efficient recruitment to facilitate growth. If you are looking for a partner with specialist talent acquisition knowledge to help you grow your teams and drive your business strategy forwards, we'd be delighted to talk. Get in touch with us to discuss your needs.


Posted by

Neil Kelly

Talent Acquisition
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