David Hazeldine - Head of the pharmaceutical practice sector at Procurement Heads - shares his insight on what is going on in the recruitment market at the moment.
What is the state of the pharmaceutical procurement recruitment market currently?
The pharmaceutical market is really buoyant – with a lot of focus on digitalisation.
There’s a lot of focus on new categories and some real drive towards sustainability.
I’ve seen a number of the big pharma companies – those in the FTSE25 FTSE100 – looking at how they can reshape procurement, how procurement can have a broader impact across the business using digital AI market analytics, market insights, and then how they can actually optimise and improve sustainability.
Where are you seeing the biggest recruitment demands currently?
At the moment, the greatest demand is within procurement.
The reason I say that is because the whole of the supply chain, the procurement, the supply chain, the logistics distribution piece and the associated infrastructure behind that, like the ERP systems, are all undergoing transformation.
Procurement at the moment has a lot of change within its target operating models. There’s the need to near sure because of the assurity of supply that was highlighted because of the pandemic and then there is the need to optimise using that digital journey, which most companies are going on.
What are companies doing well with regards to hiring and where are they going wrong?
What I’m seeing in the market at the moment, is the good companies are interviewing people who have three core attributes:
- Commerciality and people who have got an aptitude that they can apply to the setting they are going into, so they don’t have to have deep market experience – as long as they’ve got a really progressive career within procurement, supply chain or change and they can demonstrate they have delivered output and innovation, the good companies are interviewing.
- Flexibility – the good companies are being flexible when they are looking at home working, remote working or hybrid working. This is opening the good companies up to people who are based outside of their geographical area. So, as long as they can fly into or commute into a setting that’s good enough for the best companies.
- Companies are realising it’s not a buyer’s market. The market is swallowing up people who are good at the moment, good candidates, the real talent, have lots of opportunities at the moment and can pick and choose on three key criteria; the company’s ESG standing – the sustainability piece, the company’s package and the company’s remote or onsite working – these are the three parameters and the candidates are choosing based on those elements.
Where companies are going wrong is they’re still hiring in their old traditional method, they’re expecting onsite in-person interviews, people’s diaries are limited, it is slowing processes down and good candidates are in multiple processes.
This is giving the best talent more ammunition for those other opportunities.
If you need someone, give them the chance to progress at pace, it sends the right image that there is innovation, there is pace, yes there is governance and structure but also the chance to come in and drive a progressive career, which is absolutely the number one barometer for the best candidates.
What are the hindrances to hiring procurement talent in the pharmaceutical market at the moment?
There are a couple of different hindrances currently, the first is that it’s a sector that has always wanted people with sector experience.
There was a period where companies in this space were quite happy to look at people with broad commercial experience and plug them in, but in the last 12-18 months that has waned a bit – because of the situation we have had globally.
Clearly, that does limit the talent pool.
In addition to that, there are people who have got opportunities which could be interim as opposed to permanent, and the clients and the companies are looking at this as fixed-term contracts, and that’s not the best way of engaging people. People either want to be perm or interim, if you have a model that is somewhere in between that it is limiting the talent pool even further.
Has hybrid working impacted the pharmaceutical sector?
Hybrid working has not really had too much of an impact on procurement.
The reason is that most of the big pharma organisations – and not so much the medium and smaller ones – enabled people to remotely anyway.
So, you would have people who were hot-desking, people would always be around when necessary.
But, the last twelve months or so have seen the need for more flexibility when it comes to supply chain and those sorts of different operations.