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US Pharma and Biotech Summit 2024: Getting Pharma Ready for Generation Alpha

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In an interview with Pharm Exec Associate Editor Don Tracy, Carmen Villar, VP, ESG & Corporate Citizenship, Gilead Sciences discusses the changes expected in the pharma industry that will come with the entry of younger professionals.

PE: Today, you were a part of a panel titled “Getting pharma ready for Generation Alpha.” Can you discuss the key takeaways for anyone unable to attend?

Villar: It was a great panel. Luckily, we had a young MBA student on this panel as well. But it was interesting. I think the ability to be agile on both sides, meaning the young people coming into the workforce, and those of us who are hiring them potentially, in this ability to create development plans, and the opportunities for growth and understanding for the folks that are coming into pharma is a big takeaway. think that that's really important in not only how we manage our expectations, but also how we provide skills development and growth opportunities for folks who probably are not going to stay for more than a few years at any job.

PE: What are some of the challenges and trends unique to this population that need to be considered by pharma leadership into the future?

Villar: I think that one was a big one. When I think about the time commitment and effort it takes to hire somebody, and then the expectations and what we want to get out of that person as a loyal employee to any company, I think that is changing. We hear a lot about a gig economy, and what does that really mean for companies like ours or others in the industry who may be used to having employees on the payroll for 10-20 years? How do we shift and adjust? How do we be intentional about the kinds of people we're hiring, our expectations around their hire, and then their own talent development and long-term career trajectory? I think there is also this tension, especially in our industry around the need for scientific expertise. There’s also this need to sort of move on quickly and learn something else. We’re going to have to figure that out as we go, because we do need that mastery of certain expertise. That’s how we get successful clinical trials and move ahead scientifically. So, it will be something I think we'll have to work on together longer term.

PE: Every generation has different values and expectations. How do you believe the new generation of professionals in the industry will adapt to the demands and standards of the pharma industry?

Villar: Well, adaptation is not easy for humans, I think change is hard. There’s a reason why a lot of companies move slowly. Now, I think for smaller, maybe startup companies, that seems to be a little bit easier since they can be more agile. You have people that are working at those kinds of companies that can do a lot of different things. They feel very satisfied and very motivated to do a million different things every day. Again, I think we’re going to have to figure this out.

There are a few companies in our industry that are quite large. How do you move a huge structure like that in a way that it can adapt and be attractive to younger professionals that might be coming in? Also, I think what they're really expecting as they join us in the pharma industry is, what are we doing that’s good? What is our return to community, and how do we put a value on that and manage that with of course, the other demands of the businesses that we run?

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