The pharma sector in general and the innovation- driven segment within the pharma sector in particular present a compelling value proposition for great talent.
Unfortunately, many aspiring professionals, especially those outside the industry, are unaware as to what the industry can offer! For instance, the products and brands, principally the specialty drugs, are not in the larger consumer space and have a lesser top of the mind recall. Direct to consumer advertising is not permitted for prescription products. Pharma companies have a relatively lesser campus presence versus some of the other industries, and there is a slight lag when it comes to social media and digital presence, or even general efforts on employer branding. This results in many ambitious and talented professionals missing out on the opportunity that the industry presents in terms of rich work content, learning opportunities, and long-term global careers.
The Pharma industry is purpose- driven that saves and improves lives. And one can fully appreciate its value after interacting with a patient or a healthcare professional, and witnessing the positive impact medicines and procedures bring about on patients and their families. The Pharma industry provides global exposure and experience. Reputed Pharma companies are built on sound and sustainable business fundamentals, strong value system, and work with an innovative mindset which makes for an engaging environment.
And finally, one gets to experience and navigate peculiar challenges across functional disciplines: -
◆ It takes more than a decade to research and develop a new drug with millions of dollars of investment- one that requires a lot of original thinking, scientific knowledge, and immense grit and determination
◆ Medical and regulatory affairs teams must be well versed with the unmet needs and scientific value of the product, and need to be seen as trusted advisors to the external community. Remember, a patient is going to trust a healthcare professional with his/her life which presents a lot of responsibility.
◆ Product marketing and promotion is not merely about pushing the product through the distribution chain, but creating a genuine demand through a combination of scientific knowledge and value demonstration skills. Customers are highly qualified and knowledgeable healthcare professionals, and you need to know your stuff.
◆ Building brands in a regulated environment without the liberty of direct to consumer promotion tests one's marketing skills at a very different level. When you are marketing an innovative drug, it requires that you build an entire ecosystem, and many a times, the very market. And in many cases, it also means innovating on the right pricing and patient support models.
◆ Supply chain management is complex since one has to manage highly temperature sensitive products through a massive distribution chain, while maintaining the highest level of quality throughout. A stock-out can mean risk to patient lives and even the most minor issues may lead to product rejection.
◆ From a people perspective, you need to constantly attract, develop, and engage highly competent and passionate people who can do all the above. Your talent pipeline needs to be at par or ahead of your product pipeline.
From an industry stand-point, it is essential to have a well-articulated people strategy that focuses on building leadership capabilities and a pipeline of strong, diverse and highly engaged talent. It is prudent that employees are ably supported to undertake complex and functionally diverse roles, and possibly an unconventional career path. It is important to take risks with talent. And apart from testing their learning agility and leadership skills, it also raises their confidence and broadens their perspectives so that they can succeed in future leadership roles in a fast-changing environment.
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