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All News » Recruitment of Non-Executive Directors and Chairs into the Emerging European Life Science Market.

Recruitment of Non-Executive Directors and Chairs into the Emerging European Life Science Market.

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The life sciences sector is facing ever greater challenges against a backdrop of squeezed budgets, drug scandals and unprecedented demand overseas. Recruitment for companies in this industry has often been focused on medics, researchers and pharmaceutical professionals in the past. However there is a growing trend to recruit non-executive directors and chairs to boost public confidence, help to steer policy during turbulent economic times and respond to demand in the emerging economies.

Benefits of Non-Executive Directors

While the medics and pharmaceutical professionals are still needed, there is a clear need for life science businesses to bring the business case to the fore. Many pharmaceutical companies have undergone mergers or taken over their competitors to stay in business. Others have refined their offering, creating products that are more specialised. Such shifts in focus require attention from business professionals who can take a wider view and bring their knowledge of other sectors to this changing market.

Another reason to recruit non-executive directors comes from the need to raise public confidence. Media coverage in recent years has been unfavourable at times with news of drug counterfeiting and other scandals which have challenged the integrity of pharmaceutical products on the market. The nature of drug regulation is also ever changing. An outside figure who has worked in other fields is good for public relations. It shows independence and a willingness to embrace change and can help to steer a company through troubled times.

Increasing Pressures

Budgets for research and development in the life sciences sector are squeezed and professionals face a pressure as never before to deliver top quality with fewer resources. Therefore the business-minded approach needs to come first. There is little margin for error. A wrong calculation or a ‘health scare’ about a product can cost millions of pounds in lost business and development time. The knowledge and experience of a non-executive director or chair with the experience of working in such difficult conditions could steer policy and improve working policies to keep costly errors to a minimum.

Competition over Emergent Economies

With much of Europe in recession it is surprising that the European life sciences market is expanding, especially when so many companies are merging to stay afloat. However the industry is seeing mass market growth in the emerging economies of China, Russia, India and Brazil where the population is demanding better healthcare. It is predicted that 25% of pharmaceutical sales will come from these emerging markets by 2015. The competition within Europe to meet this demand is hotting up and some countries are investing more heavily in drug research and development than in the UK, to meet the demand.

Recruitment Challenges

Recruitment of non-executive directors and chairs within the life sciences sector is complex – especially if the individuals being sought are not necessarily pharmaceutical professionals. The most effective method is to make direct approaches to individuals in rival organisations, targeting talented individuals who would be an asset to the team. Some European corporate organisations hire their staff this way but much recruitment still takes place through more reactive channels such as advertising, recruitment agencies and even social media and word of mouth.

What is important here is that the recruitment consultant has a full understanding of the company’s ethos and direction. They need to be aware of global market conditions and have the expertise to spot the qualities needed for that particular organisation. Every industry has a different set of conditions, as does every company.

The recruiter needs to understand what they are, how they are likely to change in the future and pinpoint individuals with the qualities to take the organisation forward. Gathering this information may be difficult when the market is changing so much but recruitment agencies with a success rate in placing executives in developing countries or the emerging economies are likely to do better for the organisations they are serving.

Quality Headhunting Required

When searching for the right people, you need a recruitment consultant who has the expertise in your market. A good consultant can secretly headhunt likely candidates from competitor organisations and can promise total confidentiality when you need someone for a new position but don’t want the rest of the market to know about your future plans.

With the expansion of global markets and the increasing need for businesses to be streamlined, having the right team is more important than ever. Recruitment agencies looking for able candidates to fill vacancies have a tough job on their hands so they need to have consultants with specialist knowledge and a full understanding of the changes affecting the sector.

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