The Need for Speed

In a fast-paced Life Science market can you afford to go slow on talent?

September 30, 2019

By Mike Berich, Vice President, Global Practice Strategy Lead, KellyOCG

The pharma and biotech industries see a huge amount of M&A activity; with this activity increasing almost every year. Research collated by Statista found 1281 merger and acquisition deals in 2018 compared to 863 in 2010. These deals are driven by a need to acquire innovative new products and technology, to scale up, and to realign portfolios to boost commercial pipelines. This hectic backdrop of changing structures makes it crucial for organizations to act with urgency and leverage key resources. This is particularly true when it comes to talent initiatives, with high competition for skills meaning those with a targeted approach enjoy a significant advantage.

Unfortunately, this fast-paced industry sometimes moves incredibly slowly when it comes to internal functional change. From efficiency savings in business functions to building modern talent engagement and management processes.

These are some of my key learnings from pursuing high-speed talent change in large Life Science organizations.

SMEs are an In-Demand Resource

When pursuing an enterprise-scale technology transformation or an initiative to streamline a talent process within a business function, you need subject matter experts (SMEs). These people are vital in planning, launching, and delivering a project through to completion. These SMEs are often in high demand, required for similar projects or initiatives due to the scope of their knowledge. This can frustrate progress when SMEs get pulled away to work on other vital projects – often M&A activity. Understanding their priorities and capacity from the beginning of a talent transformation project can allow organizations to build in contingencies and appropriate levels of resource. It’s impossible to predict the future but understanding the push and pull of priorities within a busy Life Science organization is a good place to start.

Managing Third-Party Capabilities

Life Science companies rely on third-party partners to support key areas of their business. This means that any talent transformation project will require contribution from multiple external providers. Organizations must account for their business cycles and resource availability, including these learnings in the project plan and timings. Unrealistic assumptions on third-party involvement and timescales can quickly slow progress to a crawl.

Company Culture and Norms

In addition to being aware of resource availability, any large-scale change project in talent must consider company culture. How is work done? Do teams work remotely or in geographic alignment? Is there a preference for small teams working on key areas or a need for regular collective input? A cultural understanding of how a Life Science organization gets things done is key to building a realistic plan and delivering meaningful change quickly. Taking the time to consider culture before a project begins is often vital to its success.

So, is any of what I have described up to this point unique or groundbreaking?  Probably not, but the way you approach your next talent transformation initiative could be a key factor in your future success. By focusing on these crucial elements, you can condense project timelines and lead change in a timely and efficient way.


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