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By Adam Bloom, President & CEO, Stevenson Search Partners
Driven by revolutionary new medical and biotech innovations, major drug developments, and huge R&D investments, the global life science industry has been growing more rapidly than ever over the past decade, with an acceleration in 2020 and 2021. In fact, the U.S. life science industry reached a record high in employment last year, with total job growth rising more than 16 percent since 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic has also significantly impacted the industry – creating huge demand for life-saving vaccines and therapeutics, and the need for top talent to develop them. At the same time, companies have been tested across the globe with reimagined workplaces, remote locations, virtual collaboration, and stressful work conditions.
With decades of experience in executive search, Adam Bloom, President & CEO at Stevenson Search Partners, shares his insights and perspectives on the outlook and key trends affecting hiring and employment in the life science and healthcare industry.
What is the expected trajectory for hiring life science and healthcare senior executives in 2022?
Life science and healthcare companies continue to be the fuel sparking innovation to improve the lives of people around the world. The pandemic, while clearly an unexpected and dramatic event, is only part of the enormous growth in pharmaceutical and biotech development. Companies are flush with both demand and capital and are expanding operations and production. This uptick and the need for the best and brightest minds to support this important work is clearly not slowing down for 2022. In fact, several industry reports indicate that employment in life science and healthcare is projected to grow faster than all other occupations over the next 10 years.
The pandemic has created a heightened demand for innovation and new talent. What other key factors and influences are emerging that may impact the industry’s hiring needs this year?
Along with more COVID-19 vaccine and therapies emerging in 2022, there are a slew of new, significant drug launches, new drug classes, and large market opportunities anticipated that will continue to spur the talent demand. Advancements in the industry – including personalized medicine, genetics, immunotherapy, and digital technology – are also driving growth and the need for top talent to help bring them to life.
In addition, international collaborations, remote workplaces and continued market globalization have prompted companies of all sizes to expand their hiring globally. This increase is also here to stay.
What trends are you seeing among executives making career moves in the industry?
Spurred by the pandemic, people are rethinking current positions, reevaluating long-term career goals and priorities, and looking for new opportunities. Qualified top executives are in huge demand right now, making it undoubtedly an employee-driven market. Some senior level professionals are being lured from more established companies into smaller, more agile (and well-funded) start-ups as they seek new challenges and bigger paychecks.
Others are looking beyond financial gain and are moving toward more balance, flexibility and working in ways that give back or promote the greater good. Many executives are open to exploring new roles and locations, even considering different career paths, to find work that is more fulfilling.
What are some strategies that companies can use to find, attract, hire, and retain the best talent for senior level positions? What should companies do to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive market?
In today’s very competitive marketplace, life science companies are rethinking their hiring practices and reimagining how to retain and reward their best senior level people. Companies need to be creative and dig deep into their culture to offer not only flexibility and better work-life balance, but also embrace social responsibility initiatives and a focus on a greater purpose. Successful organizations should think long term and look beyond their immediate needs and consider a wider, global – and more diverse – network of prospects.
As for retention, employers also need to consider different approaches. Many are now offering retention bonuses, allowing employees remote flexibility, and supporting personal and professional development. In life science companies, many top executives want state-of-the-art labs and well-funded projects to foster their work. There’s never been a more important time to focus on inspiring and strengthening these remarkable professionals.
What role does diversity, equity and inclusion play in life science hiring today?
To continue to flourish and excel in the life science and healthcare sectors, companies need to elevate their commitment to hiring a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Especially in today’s global landscape, focusing on diversity not only gives a company access to a greater range of talent, but also allows companies to adopt a different lens to solve challenges. Varied experiences and well-rounded workforces ignite creative thinking and are a catalyst for innovative businesses. Prioritizing diversity and inclusivity in hiring practices will build a forward-thinking company well positioned for global challenges ahead.
How have remote and hybrid work environments impacted the global hiring process, specifically for senior executives?
If there is one positive side effect to the global pandemic, it is the seismic shift to remote work and flexibility in the workplace. For life science and healthcare companies, the increase in remote/hybrid environments significantly broadens the pool of potential candidates across a global network and brings different backgrounds into the process to ultimately find the best person. This is even more important when searching for senior level personnel with specific, high-level experience and skill requirements. Companies that embrace a more open and balanced way of working will develop a more productive and innovative environment for the long term.
Today’s fast-growing, ground-breaking life science and healthcare environment requires companies to continually lead and innovate, fueled by the creativity and talent of the very best people.
Sources: CBRE Report, U.S. Life Sciences Midyear 2021; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics