Fresh Talent Awaits, But Must Be Tech-Savvy

Pharmaceutical Executive, Pharmaceutical Executive-06-01-2022, Volume 42, Issue 6

Pharma workforce shifting amidst rise of technology in healthcare.

As June ushers in a new wave of talent to the industry, we’re inclined to look at the changing face of the pharma workforce. Though almost every industry has had to adapt to new ways of doing business over the past two years, pharma has specifically witnessed some marked changes.

From a shift in how sales meetings are conducted to an increased focus on cell and gene therapies, companies are in the process of designing a new legion of innovators to take on the challenges of 21st-century medicine.

According to GlobalData, the rate of pharma companies hiring for roles involving the Internet of Things rose in March. Hiring for cloud roles rose to a 12-month high in the same month. And in April, digitization roles were up from the previous year, while connectivity roles hit an annual high.

In its recent report titled Transforming the Talent Experience, Deloitte specifically calls out five trends driving investment in data science: patient centricity, data liquidity, regulatory guidance, shift to value, and growing cost of R&D. As Mathai Mammen, global head of R&D at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson is quoted in the report: “Incorporating data science into everything we do is transforming the way that our organization answers the question of ‘what is possible,’ including the way we conceive of, develop, and provide treatment options to our patients.”

With digital infiltrating almost every area of the industry, the next generation of pharma execs needs to be digital savvy. The Deloitte report indicates that by 2025, an estimated 40% of core skills will change for workers. And with an expansive move to digital across all industries, pharma companies won’t just be competing with each other for talent. A scarcity of tech talent will be one of the biggest barriers to overcome, and expanding and upskilling talent should be a top investment priority, according to the report.

The topic of how digital is being integrated throughout the pharma industry has come up in various Pharm Exec interviews over the past year or so. I’ve heard more than once how the traditional role of a chief digital officer (CDO) has changed significantly. Because digital is everywhere, the duties of a CDO could one day simply be absorbed into other roles.

I compare this to my children’s elementary school, which eliminated its weekly technology classes a few years ago. The district’s reasoning was that technology is such a part of everyday learning, that the general education teachers should be demonstrating basic tech skills, such as how to copy and paste, how to import images, and how to build a PowerPoint deck, into their own daily lessons. Perhaps, by the time this generation hits the job market, they will understand digital has no boundaries.

There’s a quote I recently read from late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He said: “I think the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology. A new era is beginning.” Well, that era is here.

Elaine Quilici is Pharm Exec’s Editor-in-Chief. She can be reached at equilici@mjhlifesciences.com