Slice of Fortune: Salary Survey 2006

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Following a year of flat compensation scross the board, things seem to be looking at least a little better for the industry's marketing and publishing executives, according to the MM&M Career & Salary Survey 2006. On the whole, average salaries are up, from $122,300 last year, to $127,100 in 2006. And while this increase of 3.9% may seem modest, it is robust when compared to the 1.0% rise in average salaries that took place between 2004 and 2005.

Marketers working for manufacturers continued to earn the highest average salary at $133,932, a 4.0% increase over last year.

Paul Graves, VP of global staffing and diversity at Schering-Plough attributes the rise in pharma marketing salaries to the high demand for seasoned talent.

“When you've got a lot of competition,” says Graves, “and you are looking for a seasoned sales or marketing person for a certain territory or a certain client base or therapeutic area, many times you will have to pay a premium to get the best talent you can find for that location.”

Rena Roberts Bouchard, head of Strategic Resources Biotechnology and Medical Group (SRBMG), a national healthcare marketing recruitment firm in Bellevue, WA, says, “Overall, nothing is decreasing. In fact, everything is increasing. I have had to place senior product managers for what is associate director money. That's just what some companies are doing to attract the best talent.”

Twenty-five year healthcare industry veteran, Mick Shimp, EVP, managing partner at Taylor Search Partners, a unit of inVentiv Communications specializing in recruiting pharma and biotech marketing talent, explains that it is more than just salaries that are on the rise. “It's the total compensation package,” he says. “Whether its salaries, equity or vacation, they are all increasing.”
Salary was the top job motivator for medical marketers across the board, with 96% of our survey's 746 participants ranking salary No. 1 or No. 2 in terms of importance.

Schering-Plough's Graves says, “It's very competitive. It's hard to create distinctions—to create an environment, or a company or culture, giving the message to people that something is different here and this is why you should be going to that company. The key question is, how do you create a brand or a culture that begins to speak about the uniqueness of what you have to offer? It's not just the money but rather what's the best proposition in addition to the money. On the sales and marketing side, I think the word is out that we at Schering-Plough have a very aggressive marketing effort, but certainly tempered by doing the right thing. It's not enough to just do it. We need to do it the right way and we want to do it with the right focus and emphasis.”

Meanwhile, it appears pharma and biotech marketers in the specialty areas of oncology, immunology and endocrinology are the ones commanding top dollar. SRBMG's Bouchard says, “My companies agree it is very difficult to find what they want in these specialty areas—especially product directors and VPs. They'll say they want one blue eye and one brown eye and they are determined to come as close as possible to getting that combination.”

Taylor Search Partners' Shimp adds, “All the high-science areas are in high demand right now. In our niche, if someone has a specific skill set, our clients are willing to pay for it. In the areas of oncology, immunology and other specialties, it is the skilled people that are driving the demand.”
Tom Ruff, the CEO of Tom Ruff Company, a recruiting firm for medical and pharmaceutical sales and sales management positions, adds, “typically the more specialized the position, the more difficult it is to find top talent that has the specific background that is required. Sales managers and reps in the HIV area tend to be highly sought after since it is a very specialized market with an increased demand for talent.”

Agency personnel earned the second-highest average salary at $125,279, a 3.5% increase over last year (Fig. 2). The increase comes as most agencies march forward in their seemingly never-ending quest to acquire and retain only top-notch talent.

Mid-level movement
Taylor Search Partners' Shimp says the most open positions lie in the mid-level account personnel area—ranging from account supervisors to VPs and account directors.

In recent weeks, Mark Frank, EVP and managing partner at Columbus, OH ad agency, GSW Worldwide, the flagship agency of InVentiv Communications, has spent most of his time leading the recruitment charge as his firm opens a new office in Newtown, PA.

Frank, who has been tasked with hiring 50 new employees for the location, tells MM&M his search for new talent has become increasingly expensive from top to bottom.

“The really good people just command a higher salary,” he says. “We have been recruiting on a need basis because we have some open roles. They are both at the senior and project management positions. But even after we fill what we need at the moment, we are going to have to continue to interview, simply because great talent is hard to find. If you are fortunate enough to win new business, the client often wants you to hit the ground running. So, you almost always have to have some talent in your back pocket ready to go.”

Bob Finkel, principal and chief creative officer at Kane & Finkel Healthcare Communications in San Francisco, explains he too has seen salary become an issue discussed with more frequency in the process of hiring and retaining employees.

“We're coming across more people who are just interested in that salary number,” he says. “It's a tenuous place for an agency to be; if it really just comes down to the money, then it's difficult to know whether or not you are going to be retaining someone for very long.”

Publishing decline
MM&M's Career and Salary Survey indicates publishing salaries are down this year by nearly 15%. The average publishing salary declined from $114,586 in 2005 to $99,760 in 2006 (Fig. 2).
Mark Altier, sales director of the Elsevier title Family Practice News, says the perception among most in publishing is that salaries have remained “flat” as “expectations and workload have become greater in the past few years.”

Robin Geller, sales director, pharmaceutical division at Slack says the mood is positive at her firm.
“The sales team I work with are happy most of the time. Most of them have been at Slack for a number of years. For example, I have someone who left Slack for approximately two years. She has since returned to her senior account manager position and has taken on a role at an additional publication.”

Geller says comparing salaries across sectors isn't always a practice in good measure, since publishing companies offer varying incentives ranging from salary plus commission, to having a car allowance, to being paid on business miles driven, to sign-on bonuses.

“Publishing companies offer a wide variety of incentives. For instance, we offer salary plus commission and a monthly car allowance along with healthcare benefits and a 401K,” Geller says.
Cam Bishop of Ascend Media explains, “Employees still value the fundamental factors in job satisfaction, including open communications from management, fair compensation, a solid benefit package and an environment where they are both challenged and appreciated. There are, however, employees who are dissatisfied because they long for the status quo or the way things used to be before the Internet and they are reluctant to change.”

But, he says, the media business is far more complex than it's ever been. “It requires different ways of thinking, acting and working and more often than not, we're creating these new methods and practices on the fly. All of this takes everyone out of their comfort zone. But for those who have jumped on board and become a student of our new world, it's exciting, challenging and energizing, because it is the future. For those who haven't, it's threatening and creates a sense of insecurity.”

Sales migration
Bishop adds, “Right now, I would say the greatest movement or migration in personnel involves sales people. Again, this movement relates heavily to the challenges we face in our business today. Medical media and b-to-b require a far more complex sell today than they did even two years ago. The opportunities to conceptualize and sell integrated media packages, that involve online elements in particular, require special skill. There are those sales people that simply want to push ad pages and that won't work anymore.”

The majority of medical marketing executives plan to remain at their current jobs in the year ahead, according to our survey's results (Fig. 3). Industry wide, 65.5% plan to stay put while 34.5% plan to seek a new job this year.

SRBMG's Bouchard says, “Since 9/11, it has been really difficult to find candidates willing to make a change. There seems to be a hesitation to jump ship. People want to make opportunities for themselves. The only reason people make a change is because they are looking for a better opportunity. If you want that promotion—let's say from a director level to a senior director—more often than not, you're better off staying where you are and being developed. If your boss and your boss' boss are on your side, you'll most likely get the promotion. If your boss and your boss' boss very clearly don't favor you, you should make a change, because someone else will see your value and give you that opportunity.”

GSW's Frank says he has seen the majority of job changes occurring at the entry and lower levels.
“It's just sheer numbers. There are usually more entry levels than seniors in an organization. What I've seen is that people make the jump earlier in their careers, after being on board for a couple of years. It's probably easier to acquire a person who is a little less established in their career, especially if you offer them a little bit more money.”

Bob Finkel, of Kane and Finkel, says he has seen the most movement in the account services and creative areas.

“I believe that these types of positions are key to an agency's success. That is where the value is placed. A strong account services person, or a strong creative team or creative individual—those are the people everyone is going after.”

A key factor hindering the migration of some employees is geographic location, marketers and recruiters agree.

Finkel explains “It's more difficult to attract top talent to the West Coast and areas that are less populated by the pharma industry, where there are not as many agencies. We personally have hired people from both coasts, the Midwest and from Europe, looking for the right caliber of individual. Again, the difficulty becomes the willingness to be uprooted to a totally different area of the country or world.”

SRBMG's Bouchard says, “I remember one placement with Gilead Sciences in Foster City, CA. The guy loved the job. He loved the company. But he didn't want to give up his million-dollar home in New Jersey. First, he said no. But, only after closely looking at the opportunity, did he change his mind and say yes.”

Some even feel talent is becoming increasingly difficult to acquire in areas within the Northeast's pharma corridor.

Slack's Geller says, “It has been difficult for us at times to find qualified sales people and Slack is located in Southern New Jersey, (not too far from) most of the agencies and pharma companies located in North Jersey and New York.

To attract talent, Slack has introduced greater workplace flexibility.

“Slack is a company that likes you to be in the office if you are not out on business calls. But, we have recently instituted a work-from-home program (aimed at attracting and retaining talent).”
Schering-Plough's Graves adds that, “In New Jersey, we are definitely in the right place to be in this business. That's the good news and the bad news since it is a very competitive place. There is an advantage to being right here. There aren't a lot of other considerations around relocation—this is where the action is. But it is very competitive and it's hard to create distinctions. You have to create an environment that gives the message to people that something is different here and this is why you should be coming to this company.”

Taylor Search Partners' Shimp says employers are increasingly adding these types of programs into their workplace at all levels.

Shimp says, “When I say flexibility, I mean we are seeing more individuals with flexible hours, and flexible working conditions. People are now commuting to Europe and The Far East. They have a cell phone and a Blackberry and they are ready to work. What we have also found, when we are able attract talent to outside the corridor, is that retention is outstanding. They really think through the reasons they are leaving the corridor when making that job move and they really seem to be committed.”

The gender gap
MM&M's Career and Salary Survey found a salary gap remains between men and women across the board.

Men earned an average of $140,713 in 2006, while women earned an average of $104, 295—a $36,418 difference, according to survey results.

Despite the findings, the majority of those we spoke with said that if a gap truly does exist, they have not seen evidence of it.

Finkel says, “Salaries are commensurate with experience, and gender has nothing to do with it. I'm surprised to hear that; that sounds like an antiquated idea. Any company that's differentiating between gender is asking for a lawsuit.”

GSW's Frank adds, “From my own experience in hiring, it kind of surprises me. I have had the gamut of people being all over the scale.”

Ascend's Bishop remarks, “In this day and age, I see absolutely no gender gap. I think the media industry in general is pretty progressive in this regard. In fact, over 60% of our workforce is female. Many of our top sales and marketing people are female and represent some of our highest-compensated employees, regardless of title or position.”

SRBMG's Bouchard says, “When I was a rookie recruiter in 1992, I started with women. I realized there were probably a half dozen women at the director level. Now, of course, there are many more women who are at director and higher. The industry has changed and gotten more open. That glass ceiling may still be out there somewhere, but I don't see it.”

The following pages feature position by position breakouts of the results of the MM&M Career & Salary Survey 2006.

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