In some ways, it seems ironic to be heralding the careers-focused issue of a publication whose audience — on the client side, at least — has seen unprecedented job losses over the past decade. In fact, the pharmaceutical industry has cut around 300,000 positions since the turn of the millennium, with around half of those occurring in the past two or three years.
And the swinging ax shows little sign of abating, with numerous organizations continuing to cull employees by, not just by the hundreds, but the thousands.
To read these stories, you might be forgiven for thinking that the industry is doomed and there is little chance of building an exciting and successful career in pharmaceuticals, at least not on the commercial side. Not only that, you might also assume that companies are probably taking advantage of the economic conditions and not necessarily looking after their people.
But, as everybody always tells me, good talent is always in demand – especially now, and especially in this industry.
As part of our annual careers coverage, we quizzed eight successful biopharma leaders about their career paths, their observations on the industry, their management philosophies, attitudes to employees and advice for climbing the corporate ladder (page 60). I'm certain you'll find their responses encouraging, both in terms of the opportunities for personal development and for the health and longevity of the industry as a whole.
Key message #1: It's still a people industry and you need to find the good ones.
“It's always about the people — I'm successful because I surround myself with great people,” asserts Liz Barrett, president, North America, Specialty Care Business Unit, Pfizer.
“As it says in a handwritten note on my door: It's About Them,” confirms Kevin McDermott, VP, managed markets, Daiichi Sankyo. “Give back more than you ask for and you will get great performance.”
Key message #2: It's these people that will help you through the challenging times.
“Having the right people with the right skills in the right roles is more important than ever as this industry faces unprecedented changes,” notes Mark Timney, president, global human health, US market, Merck.
“Pharma and biotech companies rely on people with ideas, innovators,” agrees Mark Pykett, president and CEO, Neoprobe. “Turning points happen all the time in this business so it's important to have deep expertise alongside you.”
And in case you needed a third opinion: “Build non-heirarchical, cohesive teams in which people bring out the best in each other when facing opportunities or challenges,” suggests Jim Daly, SVP, North America commercial operations, Amgen.
Key message #3: Use these folks to achieve your goals and those of your patients.
“I like to hire strong people, not micromanage them, and rally everyone around a common goal,” says Angela Moskow, VP, diabetes marketing, Sanofi US.
“Surround yourself with passionate, hardworking, smart people, and a team that works harmoniously with each other to do what is in the best interest of the people we are trying to help,” declares Garo Armen, chairman and CEO, Agenus.
Key message #4: Empower your people and learn from them.
“I find that everyone I work with and am in contact with is someone I can learn from.”” says Deirdre Connelly, president, North America, GlaxoSmithKline.