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November 20, 2012
Career Life Cycle Management
What You Need to Do to Prepare for and Thrive in Pharma

The evening kicked off with Adam Siskind, the Office Managing Principal of ZS Associates in Toronto. His talk began with a quick poll of the audience, asking how optimistic they were about the future of pharma. Forty-two percent responded that they were somewhat optimistic, 12% were very optimistic and 15% were neutral. Despite these responses, Adam felt that there is a lot of excitement in the industry and that it’s the right time to be in it. Pharma no longer has blockbuster drugs, which has changed its focus to specialty areas, such as oncology. As a result, there is now an increasing importance of other roles in organizations. Marketing is far more complex than it has ever been which has led to global opportunities and portfolio diversification.

The industry has seen a shift in the allocation of sales within organizations. The areas that are increasing include portfolio sales and marketing, customer marketing, public affairs, medical roles, business development and compliance. Global opportunities are also a new trend. Canada has been growing at a slower rate, so there is more opportunity in Asia and India, for example. These emerging markets are growing by 10 to 20%, so if someone is willing to be mobile, they open themselves up to more opportunities.

Another growing trend is portfolio diversification. As a result, marketing is becoming more complex with more and new customers that require different marketing strategies. Developing these strategies requires expertise that wasn’t needed 10 years ago and the delivery channels for marketing are also completely different. Marketing no longer involves just sales reps, samples and journal ads. We now have to address digital channels, like social networking, patient blogs and e-detailing. Other trends that require strong marketing minds are personalized healthcare, navigating and managing the private/public divide and customer centricity. A survey done last year indicated that the hottest trends in the industry were customer experience, patient-centricity, new technologies, reimbursement and cost containment.

Adam concluded that all these new trends in pharma are what’s making it very exciting and the right time to be in the industry.

The second speaker of the night was Henry Curtis, Executive Coach and Principal Consultant with Right Management, and he spoke about pharma career management. Henry also kicked off his talk by polling the audience, asking them how engaged they felt they were with their current employer. Forty-eight percent said they were highly engaged and 23% said “quite a lot”. Henry began by pointing out that many pharma companies are restructuring, forcing smaller amounts of people to perform the same amount of work. As a result, human resources in pharma are faced with the task of keeping employee maintenance costs down while retaining talented employees. Employee retention is an issue related to cost containment, because the cost of recruiting new employees is very high and increases with higher level positions. Henry said that the three keys to happiness at work are emotion, engagement and meaning. Sources of stress at work are unpredictability, new things, lack of control over what’s going on and events that call our self-image into question. Being in an industry, such as pharma, that is undergoing unpredictable change can be very stressful.

However, Henry pointed out that there is a new work culture being introduced in which employees are becoming more accountable and responsible for the development of their careers. This culture is empowering people and helping them be more creative. For example, it is changing the role of the manager to facilitate things rather than police them. This culture is also encouraging employees to be more productive with ideas like meeting-free days and working from home. It’s also encouraging a work-life balance and the promotion of women to senior positions. Henry pointed out an interesting statistic: 40% of Canadian companies don’t have any women on their board of directors, despite the fact that there is a strong correlation between having women in senior positions and being a high performing company.

What types of employees are losing their jobs? Henry said that they include people whose jobs are no longer needed, people who are no longer aligned with company strategies, who are too expensive for what they produce, who aren’t seen as valuable, who aren’t selling their talents enough internally, people who complain, who don’t learn, and who don’t know where they are going within an organization. How can we “fireproof” ourselves so that we don’t lose our jobs? Henry offered some great tips, which included:

  • Take charge of your own career and keep your CV up to date.
  • Keep our eyes open and stay aware of your business environment.
  • Be open and ready for change.
  • Stay aligned with your employer’s needs.
  • Ensure your employer knows the good things you do.
  • Find creative solutions and be subversive when necessary.
  • Market yourself and invest time and money in your own growth.
  • Develop a personal brand and a reputation for curiosity.
  • Have a reputation for being positive and upbeat.
  • Network to learn and develop credibility and expertise.
  • Work to develop your own visibility and credibility.


Henry concluded by offering some networking tips. He encouraged everyone to get a LinkedIn account and “link up” with friends and colleagues. He did caution though that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to connections! Another tip offered was to Google “social media research and analytics Lynne MacMaster”. She offers a plethora of information on creativity, innovation and social networking. Finally, Henry encouraged us to network as much as possible and to get engaged and committed to our companies, associations and fields of interest.

Our moderator for the night, Stuart Lourie, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Canadian Heart Research Center, concluded the evening by hosting a question and answer period. The two panellists fielded questions from the audience regarding digital networking, social media etiquette and mentoring within the workforce. Their excellent advice and suggestions provided a most valuable ending to the evening.

Lara Holmes
Medical Writer
Cell: 514-425-4977
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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Supporting Care Partners

Virtual Meeting
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Online only!

Tel: (514) 486-3458
Fax: (514) 486-4794

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