Pharma 2015: What talent will be required to remain competitive in the future?

What do the HBA and Right Management have in common? If your first guess was leadership development, then perhaps you attended the HBA dine-around held on March 5 at CulinAriane in Montclair, NJ. Top chef Ariane Duarte delivered on brand promise and so did Right Management sponsor and guest speaker, Robin Guarnieri. Robin’s topic on pharma talent in 2015 drew a sold out crowd and answered the question “What skills do I need to develop now to be successful going forward?”

Right Management surveyed the healthcare landscape and interviewed 15 pharma companies. Industry wide macro trends that impact us all include healthcare reform, expiring patents, loads of new legislation and increased R&D spending. Did you know that it costs $1 billion dollars to launch one drug? For that kind of money, patients expect new drugs that cure disease, not ones that simply treat the symptoms.

What Right Management found was that there is a skills mismatch and that the available talent pool is not as rich or as diverse as needed. Skilled trades, sales, IT, engineers, account management and finance roles are expected be the hardest jobs to fill. According to Robin, organizations that do well and retain the right talent have developed knowledge-based internal structures and collaborative cultures. These companies are generally viewed as desirable places to work. Another observation was that although growth through acquisition may lead to increased sales in the short term, without the right culture and successful integration, eventually the top talent leaves, and the company is left with less talented employees.

Successful companies create environments where employees are encouraged to challenge the status quo. Systems and procedures are established to encourage collaboration. Decision time-lines and problem-solving happen within teams, as opposed to individuals acting alone. Employees work across silos, instead of up one and down another, to deliver products and services to customers. 

As for the number one skill employers will be looking for in an individual – it’s learning agility. The ability to draw conclusions and connect the dots based on information from multiple individuals and sources is fast becoming the skill most coveted by employers. In the old model, workers held 75% of what they need to successfully complete their job in their head. In the new model, they will hold only 8-10% internally, but will know what they don’t know, know how to get it and be able to execute. They will be humble enough to recognize that they can’t solve the problem alone and courageous enough to reach out to the right people to get the job done.

If companies want to be successful, they will have to employ strategies to develop the employee skills of the future. Simply providing a checklist won’t cut it. They need to look at high performers, innovative teams and effective groups and then determine the characteristics and qualities that lead to success. They will need to clearly define what innovation means within the company and communicate expectations that apply across all employees regardless of their role. Things like how people talk to each other, greet one another and manage others all come into play. Everyone in the company should understand how the business works, not just how to do their job. Ownership and accountability, out-of-the-box thinking and enthusiasm for technical work will all need to be valued and measured.

Advice for those of us looking for new opportunities either in the form of new job, getting to the next level or improving the skills in our professional development toolbox: recognize that the nature of work is changing constantly and we need to be able to respond effectively. Learn how to gather input from others, rely on data for context and validation and cultivate the ability to connect the dots.

What are your thoughts about talent for the future? Continue the conversation, log in to Twitter, search for @HBA2015 and let us know. Remember to include “#HBA2015” after your comment so that others will see it when they search for @HBA2015.

Right Management is a global leader in talent and career management workforce solutions within ManpowerGroup. The firm designs and delivers solutions to align talent strategy with business strategy. Expertise spans Talent Assessment, Leader Development, Organizational Effectiveness, Employee Engagement, and Workforce Transition and Outplacement. With offices in over 50 countries, Right Management partners with companies of all sizes–including more than 80% of the Fortune 500–to help grow and engage their talent, increase productivity and optimize business performance.

Top chef Ariane Duarte prepared an incredible menu for this event. Try the Sweet potato empanadas (tastes like the holidays) at CulinAriane in Montclair.

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