Navigating the talent crunch at LEAP HR Life Sciences Europe


Ekaterina (Katya) Gorokhova

Vice President and Practice Lead, RPO KellyOCG

In February, I was thrilled to attend LEAP HR Life Sciences Europe, an in-person event that brought together influential life sciences and workforce leaders to explore some of the biggest people challenges facing the industry today. Held in Koepelkerk in Amsterdam, a beautiful, old church building that provided a fascinating backdrop to the three-day conference, this highly interactive event brought together a wide range of views and experiences, and it was a pleasure to be a part of it.

Despite welcoming many different people and organisations – from global life sciences leaders to fast-growing biotechs and workforce solutions providers – there were also lots of shared challenges and ideas at LEAP HR. It was great to connect with so many enthusiastic and forward-thinking leaders. In this blog, I share some of my key takeaways and talking points.

Focusing on candidate experiences

Creating stand-out employee and candidate experiences was a key area of discussion across all days. Expert speakers discussed building winning EVPs (employee value propositions), crafting great employee journeys, streamlining candidate experiences, and banishing boring job descriptions. There was also a big focus on culture – in a world of constant M&A activity, it can be tough to build and maintain a great culture, but when you’re searching for hard-to-find life sciences talent, it’s an essential element of candidate experience.

Talent first, location second

The topic of shifting employee expectations and the ability of companies to meet them successfully was well positioned by Sarah Holmes-Klotz, Global Head of People & Culture, Santhera Pharmaceuticals. She spoke about transforming team structures to become a truly flexible global employer. At KellyOCG RPO, we share the same vision – talent first, location second. We locate the best recruiters for our programmes around EMEA and empower them to work from their own countries. This approach enables us to access talented and motivated experts with multiple language skills and build effective virtual hubs.

Accelerating internal mobility

I was happy to share a table with and later enjoy a powerful presentation from Andrew Dobas, Head of Human Resources Switzerland, Moderna. He discussed how to best harness internal biopharma talent around the world – translating culture and mindset to re-attract your own talent. This discussion resonated strongly with me as it’s something that we support customers with inside our RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) practice, and it’s a strategic focus that I believe many life sciences businesses could benefit from. Chatting with delegates in Amsterdam, I found many companies agree that they should be redeploying and leveraging internal talent, but very few have the time and resources to do it effectively. Working with an expert RPO partner, like KellyOCG, could help more businesses to tap into internal mobility.

Building a cohesive workforce strategy

It can be tough to create a joined-up approach when your life sciences organisation is evolving and restructuring at speed. This is a challenge I dug into further during my spotlight session: The Perfect Talent Acquisition Storm – Why Life Sciences is Facing a Major Talent Crunch & How to Successfully Navigate it. If you were there, you probably noticed me in my bright yellow blouse with my bright yellow presentation! Ultimately, I believe that to beat the talent crunch, you need a connected approach that supports and recognises insights from stakeholders across the business to create a truly strategic, holistic people approach. For both large and small life sciences companies, I think a talent advisory partner – whether that’s RPO, MSP (managed service provider), or consulting – can help to bridge that gap and provide a significant talent advantage in a fast-moving industry.

It was a fascinating few days at LEAP HR Life Sciences Europe and I hope, if you were able to attend, you enjoyed it as much as I did! If you’d like to know more about my take on the life sciences talent crunch or find out more about KellyOCG’s RPO practice and the ways we support all kinds of global life sciences organisations, please get in touch to start a conversation.


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