It’s no secret, clearly, that pharma is among the most highly regulated industries. In the past, this was thought to drive away innovative talent, owing to a belief that they wouldn’t want to work in such a restrictive environment. But I think a new trend is here to stay — and it’s just the opposite of what everyone has traditionally expected.
The old buzz: Too many restrictions mean I can’t be creative. The new buzz: I’m ready for a challenge. Restrictions? Bring ‘em on.
Could this be true? I took a look at what people were saying, both within my organization and outside it, to understand how pharma’s laundry list of restrictions impacts the willingness of top creative talent to work in the industry.
Lo and behold, many point to restrictions and guidelines as motivating forces that push them to think differently. Some have spent years honing their marketing skills and want the opportunity to test themselves. Others are just starting out and want to go big, so to speak.
Across most audiences (although notably more so among millennials), restrictions were seen as a challenge rather than an obstacle. It’s like the magician who is more impressive when you add handcuffs and shackles before throwing him in the shark-infested tank: Today’s ambitious marketers and media people want to be the ones to not only figure out how to work within the regulations but also to create better work than ever before.
Also worth considering are self-imposed restrictions related to the sensitivity of working in healthcare. As an industry, we need to ensure that our marketing campaigns are tactful and appropriate, given how sensitive the topic of health can be. At the same time this, too, is an attractive challenge to many marketers.
We’re seeing talented people at every level of experience who want to work in healthcare marketing because they like the idea of connecting with people at an important point in their lives. Indeed, with the targeted campaigns we’re now able to do, it’s possible to see the results (read: outcomes) of our efforts. That infuses a meaningfulness that you just can’t get in other industries.
It’s easy to find candidates who are driven by a personal cause, such as a loved one with a medical condition. They likely won’t put that on their resume, but it’s still a huge driver for them.
More than ever before, pharma marketing delivers huge satisfaction to those who want to work within the framework of its myriad regulations. And aren’t those the people we want, more than any other? The ones who are drawn to a challenge, the ones who thrive on thinking differently, the ones who aren’t okay with the status quo?
Because the restrictions we face in our industry aren’t going away. Don’t we want colleagues who are eager to excel within such an environment? I’d argue yes. Let’s ride this wave of rebellious, unconventional, restriction-loving thinking.
Julia Missaggia is director of human resources at CMI/Compas.