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Life Sciences Following from my recent post Recruitment differences in Health and Science last week I was invited to talk in Barcelona at the Personal España fair and exhibition about the differences that specialist recruiters have compared to generalists.

Basically I can identify three characteristics: consultants must have previous experience in the field, they understand and speak the language of clients and candidates and they also keep updated on the latest developments in the various segments of the industry. In short, both parts perceive that the consultant is “one of them”. This is not unique to Life Sciences; it happens the same with Finance, IT, etc.

In parallel, I was preparing a .ppt (with the help of Javier de Inocencio) presentation for the Life Sciences practice of my network Penrhyn International and had to summarize the advantages of these characteristics: Penrhyn-life-sciences-practice-presentation

1) A specialist recruiter can enrich the briefing with the client and even offer some benchmarking from the very beginning of the search.

2) Knows what target-companies to approach and whose not: it is more efficient. Complementary to this, can identify “lateral candidates”, the non obvious, sometimes temporarily in Consultancy, Services, another country, another function, etc.

3) Gets spontaneous referencing that is extremely valuable along the project.

4) Can focus the personal interviews on real key issues, avoiding generalizations and clichés.

5) When the practice consultants have complementary backgrounds and are based in different locations, they can also offer a true “global view” of the sector.

Hospital management healthWhat makes Biosciences executives different from other economy segments? It is commonly argued that it is a different industry with a certain endogamy seen in their  companies and some functions. Apart from the unpredictability associated with basic research, a basic difference is that Biosciences project a global approach from the very moment that a molecule is identified.  Here are three others:

* Permanent Innovation. With a clear science-and-research culture, innovation is embedding in this sector DNA. The most successful corporations are the ones with a clear commitment to R&D. An average R&D investment of 15%, that may go as high as 20% is difficult to beat for most industries, except sometimes IT or Telecom. Successful executives must get used to project management and drug development in many innovative disciplines such as Molecular Biology, Genetics,  Nanotechnology,  Proteomics, etc.  Any professional headhunter knows that Biosciences CEO’s and VP’s must not be sought from mature or “comfortable” sectors .

* Regulatory Affairs. A challenge for executives coming from other sectors is market access. Price is not free in most countries, packaging cannot be changed without notifying the health authorities, distribution channels are well established with the role of Hospitals and Pharmacies also regulated. Moreover, promotional claims or DTC advertising must pass previous approval in almost every country, particularly for reimbursed products. Business Development deals require a quick adapting to new segments with a strong focus on health economics, outcomes and reimbursement.

* The role of prescription. When the ultimate customer, the patient, is often remote and not in direct contact with the innovator, a pharmaceutical o biomedical product requires the professional advice of a prescriber. This works in cascades: international opinion leaders(OL’s), national OL’s and local OL’s. Nowadays, specialists -in a clear shift from primary care- again prescribe the most innovative and attractive products. And the number of stakeholders has grown in recent times, including now clinical boards assessing new drugs, patients associations, medical societies and -in countries like Spain- autonomous communities authorities, etc.

The advent of personalized medicine will mean more specialist drugs for smaller groups of patients and a shift back to science vs. marketing, -that was so effective in the me-too and blockbuster era-. Executives used to work with that type of products need to reset to the new targeted-only business model and the recruiters involved in these types of searches must have the “helicopter view” necessary to differentiate segments and cultures, on top of  speaking the language of the industry.

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