In a panel discussion titled ‘No people, no business: winning the talent war’, during the Pharma Integrates conference that took place in London last month, executives involved in the pharmaceutical industry expressed their views about the challenges in recruiting and discussed their organizations’ recruitment strategies.
Paul Edwards, a managing partner at the consulting company Horton Global Healthcare, suggested that the highest competition is currently seen among people with skills related to artificial intelligence and machine learning, as well as manufacturing experts with knowledge on cell and gene therapies, a sector with ‘huge demand’.
The executive noted that the recruitment market for the pharmaceutical industry is very competitive, and because of that there are many factors that make a company attractive to candidates.
Such factors, according to Edwards, could be the location of the employment or the ‘two-job syndrome’ – when married scientists married look to work in the same company.
Moreover, the executive cited the importance of a company’s reputation among the employees to attract more valuable talent, and added that “good companies do well because their people help to promote them.”
Development journey and a neuro-diverse environment
On her side, Jacinta George, the managing director of Reading Scientific Services, stated that candidates are asked straight-forward at their interview about their personal development goals, since “any work is only as good as the development journey and the growth that you have in yourself along that path.”
George noted that within her company, employees are ‘purposely’ moved around among the different sectors, in order for the organization to be constantly shaped according to the best use of the talent that it already holds.
The executive also brought up her organization’s work on ‘neuro-diverse’ recruitment, which is inclusive to people with autism, dyslexia or dyspraxia. According to George, such employees represent a ‘phenomenal’ way to absorb and assimilate detailed technical knowledge and a ‘great tenacity’ for focusing on it.
Moreover, candidates with neuro-diverse needs can also be “extremely loyal and great colleagues to work with,” the executive noted, adding that the inclusion of these employees requires ‘reasonable adjustments’ that companies should make.
Asked whether, in such cases, the company should change the way that the rest of the staff behaves as well, George replied: “This is just a great opportunity for all to recognize that there are different ways of thinking; however, I think that the world is in general more open to being vulnerable and expressing what you need, so I don’t think that there is any big difference.”