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Growing Your Life Science Business in a Talent-Short Market

Growing Your Life Science Business in a Talent-Short Market


Good morning everyone My name is Sam Barry I’m a Director of Global Client Services at Proclinical Staffing At Proclinical we identify as Global Growth Partners
as we support companies experiencing rapid expansion both nationally and internationally as they move through R&D to commercialization A high proportion of the companies we support are headquartered here in the US looking at expanding into Europe and beyond As a truly global business ourselves we’re
well equipped to tackle the distinct challenges of identifying and engaging niche talent across international territories Our stakeholders are varied
but increasingly we find ourselves working with talented in-house
recruitment teams in need of the support and expertise of our global workforce to
find top talent today I’m honoured to be chairing this panel session with three very impressive people that we’ve worked closely with over the past few years Nicole Barna – in the middle – Head of HR at Codiak Biosciences. Carolyn Pastore, Director of Talent Acquisition of Blueprint Medicines and Donna Vieraitis, Head of HR at Servier Pharmaceuticals as we discuss the topic of Growing your Life Sciences Business in a Talent-Short Market So Donna I’ll come to you first if I may What would you say the challenges are
engaging in a highly competitive talent market like we have and how does your
business Servier differentiate themselves amongst that? Thanks Sam good morning
everybody we’re really happy to be here so I’m Donna Vieratis Head of HR as
Sam said at Servier Pharmaceuticals we are an interesting company in that we
just kicked off September 1st 2018 we are a divestment from Shire started as
an oncology business that Servier a 65 year old privately held company bought
first presence in the United States So the challenges and how we
differentiate ourselves are really interesting so we’re privately held and
will always be privately held so when we take a look at you know how do we
compete in this market we don’t have stock will never have stock or equity so
we have to really think about how we would recruit people what was going to
appeal to folks we’re right here in the Seaport and it’s a very cool building
where Anthony’s Pier 4 used to be so it’s a yeah Pier 4 Boulevard we’ve got a
great environment but one of the things that I think we really focused on and it
touches on what many of you talked about the employee experience how do we get
people to come to Servier Pharmaceuticals hey’re coming to seaport first of all so we’re not in Cambridge what we did was we really put in a very very flexible environment for folks so much like many of our other companies but
we’re really open about it flex time our vacation is not tracked take your
vacation when you want to take it just work with your managers so we have focused on our employees and given them
so much trust to just get the job done and we’ve have not had a difficult time
attracting people because this is an opportunity for folks to come in to
much of a start-up kind of environment but with a very nice security of Servier an
umbrella over them so it’s not the kind of financial you know quarterly results
that you’ve kind of look to the market for or your board
or whatever so it’s an exciting place to be and we’re still building Thank you. Carolyn I’m Carolyn Pastore with Blueprint
Medicines we are a biotech company in the oncology and rare disease space
we’ve been around for eight and a half years and we are scaling you’ve probably
heard that before we’re one of them We’re about 270 employees right now
we’re in the process of building out four different field teams including all
of our sales and national accounts and diagnostic teams because we’re precision
medicine as well as global it’s all happening at the same time so or
probably have another 70 or so employees on board by the end of the year so I
took a break out of my day to come here and speak So how do we differentiate
ourselves well we have this platform this amazing platform that we know the
science works so that’s great right it’s great when you know that your
science is working we have great scientific founders an amazing executive
team if anybody was here on Wednesday they made of her Debbie Bumpass speak my
boss she was amazing and so the talent does look at the market right they said
you know who’s doing well where do I want to be and so we’ve had some success
there right so we were sort of riding that train but we are not immune to what
anybody else is going through we are still fighting for talent and we’ll talk
a little bit more about that later but I think that we we draw people that want
to wear broad hats that want to do a lot that see the mission align with our
values and goals and that’s something else in it we’ll talk a bit more later
and I think that we’ve been very lucky we’ve been very fortunate we the very
turnover rate right now and but we are again not immune to what you all are
going through I know for us I think about medical directors for one anybody
that does that speak to anybody’s anybody here
and if any of you are that is not an issue please message me because I would
definitely love to learn from you but you know that’s you know these are these
are thorns right these are real challenges in the organization because
we’re really trying to advance and grow and meet your business goals and without
having the right talent onboard it’s really it’s almost impossible to do that
so we need to get really creative around that but I think that what I hear
generally in the marketplace and what my team hears in the marketplace is that
they want to be part of this rocketship they want to be part of this mission and
I think we look for values and skills is one thing but values is something else
and I think aligning on that is really really important and so we’ve
given lots of people chances that might have come from other industries that
aren’t necessarily coming in because they know people and it’s
worked for us so I think Blueprint is an amazing place to be right now
that’s my plug – have to do that and we have a great leadership team that
is empowering of their people and is aligned as a unit and I think
that in itself is really special and I think one thing that you will that you
see and I haven’t always seen this at companies but it’s something that I feel
special with Blueprint is that our CEO for one is very involved he cares about
his people he walks in on meetings I tell this to candidates as they come through He you will walk in and might not know
you and say what’s going on and and tell me about tell me about what you’re
working on tell me about the issues and it could be at any level anywhere and I
often say that if there’s really no place to hide in the company so if you
are okay with that and you want that challenge and you want that
accountability then Blueprint could be a great place but if you are not looking
for that then it may not be great and so we often look for people to self-select
out so that’s also part of it and that’s okay I could add maybe just two comments so my name is Nichole Barna
and I’m at Codiak Biosciences which is a small preclinical company in Kendall
so I think similar to Blueprint one of the pieces that differentiates us is our
science we’ve got very exciting novel science we’re a platform and a pipeline
company and so we’re able to attract scientists because that’s really who were
recruiting mostly now because they’re excited to be part of a novel
organization and that lends itself to our culture which is the other key
differentiator for us you know we are small so we’re able to have that biotech
feel we have very fast decision-making and very streamlined communication and
that I think has been really key for us from a cultural standpoint so those
would be the two things that I would highlight when I’m talking to potential
candidates you know to think about the size of the organization and the stage
that we’re in and how that lends itself to some ability to make
an impact Thank you I wanted to move on to engagement with internal stakeholders As a recruiter we’ve often seen hiring managers
perhaps wanting to do things one way and I’m sure everyone can relate
to having to maybe pull people back into line so how do you go about
engaging with internal stakeholders to make sure they are like to process that
is outlined That’s a good one Especially as you scale the
organization if you come from the early discovery organization they have their
own way of wanting to think about things that we want a long day of interviews
and 14 to 17 people on the interview team and what’s this behavioral based
interview thing you know don’t want to be a part of that
and so I usually come with data and so I think that that is really helpful to
pull the process through and to try to influence that way and we try to
influence from the bottom up as well as the top down and so pulling some of
those best practices through and just remembering that what we’re trying to
put in place is to help get to where we want to go faster and more efficiently
and to ultimately meet the business goals So I’m gonna think a little
bit about an experience I had a few years ago I was working for Biogen at
the time and I was working in their UK office and I think what I found in that
case when you’re trying to align stakeholders across different countries
and different therapeutic areas and the most important thing to me was to start
out and really understand where that business stakeholder was coming from
what was most important to them in terms of the process and then how can you
think about what your talent acquisition process and approach and strategy was
and where can you find that common alignment because I think you know my
experience company culture is a big driver for having a consistent
strategy and process across the globe but also things like operational
efficiency and how quickly you can get things done and lastly you know we
had a lot of professional career expectations so level expectations if
you’re in a level the position or promotional expectations and so if you
can understand where the business leader is coming from and and educate them
about the process I think people really find that those are really important
parameters for any employee in any location and so understanding how the
strategy can meet their needs and educating them in that process to me was
the most important thing for getting that alignment I’ll just add a couple of
things so at Servier Pharmaceuticals being
again a subsidiary of a much larger company we have values that drive the
culture and one of the things that has really worked for us at
this startup US subsidiary is to align our stakeholders our hiring
managers on these values as we’re interviewing so we’re looking at the
skills of course and that drives a lot of what we’re hiring for but if we
can’t align an individual potential candidate with the values and the
culture then it’s possibly not a good fit so we have a very small HR
team and our management team is actually very small and streamlined so it’s
really easy for us to be clear on the interview panel what we’re looking for
because the fit is so much a driver in that hiring decision You both mentioned
interview panels we actually worked with a company who I won’t name who insisted
on 22 on an interview panel through an interview process that wasn’t even
for VP or C-level roles Yeah that’s a little much A lot of the work we do at Proclinical is
helping biotechs expand primarily from America to Europe so when it comes to the global growth strategies
that these companies put in place and perhaps yours what do you think of the
primary factors that need to be considered when entering Europe or any
other international market? Nicole So I’ve been fortunate to have worked at both
headquarters and in satellite offices and I think again to me the most
important piece is to really get a good understanding of the local labor
conditions so we used to joke around and say like I’m from headquarters I’m here
to help and I think you really don’t want to take that approach necessarily
so when I was with Biogen they moved me to Japan as well and getting into Japan
initially it was a very very different scenario than Boston and Cambridge or
even the UK and so the first thing that I needed to do was really spend a lot of
time understanding what’s the situation there what do employees expect from
the process and from a company what was their understanding of Biogen’s brand at the
time and how could we help influence that and then really get a sense from
headquarters what did headquarters think was most
important and again how can we build those bridges between what was going to
happen at the local level and then what was going to happen or what what corporate really wanted us to drive and just maybe a couple of quick examples you
know at the time we were going through a process of really trying to minimize the
number of agencies that we were using both contingency and executive
search agencies in Japan when I was there is a very very heavily agency
heavy market and partially that’s because in Japan the culture is that
people don’t like to change jobs right you start a company and you stay there
your whole life and so the the process of changing jobs is kind of frowned upon
but of course you know you’re building an organization so you’re trying to get
people to change jobs and you want people with experience so you know we
really had to figure out which agencies did we want to work with because they
were gonna represent who they were and who we wanted to be as a company most
effectively and then help headquarters understand no we still had to use these
agencies because people aren’t gonna apply on their own and and you know it’s
just the market isn’t open to that sort of reach out so it took a lot of
kind of learning in the market directly myself and working with people
on the ground in Japan and then also translating that information back
to corporate I’ll jump in here so ours is kind of a bit of an
opposite on the Servier Pharmaceutical side so again we’re the US subsidiary we
have our headquarters in Paris France so we do have some of our employees
in the US that report into a manager in France and so that’s a little bit
different there’s some R&D roles that kind of happen that way and so when
we’re trying to recruit in the US for an individual that’s reporting to somebody
in France we have a little bit of struggle in the
beginning because the French manager wanted to drive it out of France and try
to hire and run everything there and then flip it to us in the US well that only happened
once and after three months looking at Sam because we
were working with Proclinical helping us they said this isn’t going to work
and I said precisely we need to recruit here for people in the US and then when
we get to the shortlist we can do some Skype interviews with with you in France
so influencing our headquarters and helping them understand educate what the
Boston market is really about was was a challenge I have to say but they got it
because after three months they realized that they really
couldn’t do this without us focusing directly on the ground in Boston So I’m learning from these guys and Blueprint’s on the opposite end so we are based in
Cambridge which you know and then we decided that just like we’ve done
everything else we’re just gonna go for it
and so we’re gonna wholly-owned all of our assets and we’re going to build in
Europe all at the same time and so as we went through that process
of what are we going to do how do we do this what’s the strategy and what do you take into consideration we
went out and tried to figure out where is the talent market and that was one of
the things that we looked at we did end up in in Switzerland in Zug and even
though we thought we may end up there we still went through the exercise of going
to different countries and understanding the laws the tax
applications really understanding where does it make sense and Zug ended up
being one of those places and we had the same issue that we had here in the
United States when we first started when I came to Blueprint two and a half years
ago it was early clinic and we’re Blueprint and everybody said I love Bluebird
Bluebird’s amazing and I thought Bluebird is amazing they’re down the street
and they’re in gene therapy but we were Blueprint and
so of course the same issue in Europe where people just didn’t know who we
were and so we needed to really understand who are the influencers you
know where was the talent who are the influencers align ourselves with those
people and really try to get our brand out and that meant we had to rely on
search partners to help we had hired our general manager and then to hire the
heads of the countries and then his leadership team and now I think you know
word is spreading the general managers haven’t started yet so I think it will
remain to be seen and how we pull that those processes through but we did our
behavioural-based interviewing so we shall see so it’s like I said we’re on the
front end of it and it’s exciting but I think we also understand that we need to
be restrained in this because it is expensive it’s very expensive to go
global and our first indication like many small biotech companies is a very
small indication PDGFR Alpha is the biomarker and patient population is very
small so it’s not gonna be big revenue generator and so we need to think about
you know what does that look like what does that revenue look like and we need
to be really mindful of our growth so aligning with the people that
you’re bringing on board to understand that you can operate in a lean way and
find creative ways to get the job done until we can actually really invest in
that growth Thank you At Proclinical a lot of the companies we
work with are emerging biotechs where the need for a strong cultural fit is
just as important as the need for somebody who is very strong technically
so when you’re hiring for a cultural fit against the technical fit have you ever
compromised on one for the other and if so there are examples you can share? Yeah so I’ll kick that one off so Servier
Pharmaceuticals as I said really started September 1st and there were
a number of people who were part of this divestment
from Shire that came over but the executive team was really only partially
staffed coming in from Shire so we had a big challenge to hire our
executive team as you might imagine and so what was really really key was
I was at Shire and I was tapped to come in to do this Servier
Pharmaceuticals which was awesome it was like the best thing ever because you’ve
got this amazing opportunity to build this company kind of from scratch you’ve
got an existing product so we’re commercialized but it’s still this
startup so one of the things we really had to look at was in building our
leadership team the cultural fit we knew we wanted
to be very transparent and have a real empowering culture I worked with the CEO but we
needed to have people who really could roll up their sleeves so even if you
have 35 years of HR experience you’re still like how did we do that in
payroll and so we had to really look at individuals that were willing to roll up
their sleeves and from a cultural fit that was a challenge we wanted folks
that could grow with us as well so for an example we had one of our executives
that we knew he could he could fit with us but we weren’t sure that he
had exactly what it was going to take to grow this particular area and I don’t
want to say too much because you know you might like the one LinkedIn and look
him up or whatever but this individual ended up we ended up going with this
individual because we kind of took a risk and we said we see going back to
some of what we heard earlier right you don’t have to check every box he had
a lot of the boxes and there was a stretch factor there so we we jumped on
it and he has been I will say since last September probably one of our best
leaders in the company so we’re really excited and it’s it’s a decision we make
every day right it’s you know what boxes do you check I think of that as the
bullseye right We went out for for wine and oysters
the other day and I think we all leaned in on this question because there’s
all kinds of stories to tell so you know we think of talent as a as a bullseye really when you’re talking to your hiring managers
and the team and what does that ultimate person look like and
you can see them just thinking of that amazing person
and then say well we don’t create these people we’re not manufacturing them right so
we have to find them and so let’s think about moving that bull’s eye out by the
rings and if you’re willing to give with each one what does that look like where
are you willing to give and most of the time you’re not willing to give on
culture fit it’s really important if anybody has made a bad hire where the
the culture when we think of it almost as the culture value so what are
you bringing to add to the culture and we understand that by role it may not
all be the same right you may not have everybody attending everything and
being the mentor and the leader but you do have to align
on your values and that’s really what I think we look for are you aligning on
your values it may differentiate if you’ve made it like I said if you’ve
made a hire where they can’t integrate they’re just not going to have
success it doesn’t really matter how great their skills are and so we’ve also
tried to think creatively about how how can we help supplement it’s much easier
to supplement on skills than it is the supplement on culture so if you hire
somebody for culture and they’re short on skills and you can understand what
those skills are how do we beef that up you know can you get a contractor can you get
a consultant and is there somebody that can give some of their
time to help supplement that and I think if you can think about it that way then
you might be able to get closer to that bullseye without actually waiting 12
months to find that person so I really think that the culture piece is really
important we were talking the other night about what is that percentage
you know what are you willing to give and I think we all were
in alignment that just culture is really important Yeah I would agree I mean the cultural fit is
a requirement for sure I think also it depends a little bit on the level of the position so as you were saying at the executive
level you need architects you need people who really
can drive a culture at a more junior-level
position maybe that’s where you’re hiring much more for expertise and so
you have to kind of toggle between those two but you know I think it’s
it’s very much something that is individual to me to the company to the
position we’re at a stage where we need a lot of expertise so you know it’s
really critical that people have the skill sets that we want but they also
have to have the culture so we’re not really compromising just yet I think we have three or four minutes for our final one which is around
recruitment process so a lot of thought goes into establishing a robust
recruitment process do you think it’s optimal to have one framework that you
roll out globally or does that need a bit of adaptation for your regional
hiring? So I think a global framework is very important because again I think for
issues of culture and really trying to have your company brand be meaningful at
any location however that being said I think the localization is also very
critical and I think the challenge for us as HR professionals is to really
understand where can you compromise and what’s most most
important for all stakeholders but I would say have a have a
global understanding and then make adjustments locally because otherwise
it’s not gonna be able to get the talent that you want Yeah definitely the same
thing I think we have certain criteria and guidelines that we’d like to pull
through that we feel like are relevant on a global scale but then there are
definitely cultural differences where we’ll need to make adjustments so
like I said we’re on the front end of that so stay tuned til next year The only thing I would just reiterate our particular
situation is that we really are dealing with the US hiring in the Boston
Cambridge competitive market and for us it’s more about educating our parent
company about the speed in which we need to to proceed as well I think we have a
little bit of time if there’s any questions from the floor that anyone would like to ask So I’m looking
at all three of you and need some advice because I love hearing about this
culture fit and you know at our company I’m interviewing a senior
executive and a recruiter says John you are in charge of measuring the cultural
fit especially on collaboration and I’m going well how the hell do I do that do
I ask him are you collaborative so when you say culture fit one give us one bit
of advice what does that really mean what a senior executives is trying to
measure a cultural fit what do they ask how do you do that actually because I
understand the concept but we’re all skilled at a different level so how do
we learn how to measure whether the candidate is a cultural fit for our
company? I love this one So you all are familiar with
behavioral-based interviewing so there’s so many different ways
you can ask questions and for me it’s less about
asking a question it’s just getting people to talk and tell a story if you
can get them the talk and tell a story then stuff comes out and
oh wow that must have been so difficult how did you respond to that
oh really okay maybe not great fit here right and so sometimes it’s something as simple as
that because you can really condition yourself even as the interviewee
you can say I’m looking at your website I know what
your values are unprepared but when you get into a conversation and you build
that trust through the conversation which is ultimately what you want and I
often say the goal here is for both sides to have success because if both
sides don’t have success nobody has success right and so let’s
have a conversation around that so for collaboration I would start with just
understanding how they work right how do they work and what’s the best
environment that they’ve worked in where have they see put yourself
tell me a story where you’ve been where you’ve had this tremendous success
you know you’ve been on the put them in this frame of mind where
oh I was just nailing it everything was working and it felt great and what did
that look like was it were the decisions part of a team
or were you alone making your decisions I mean I
just had that conversation the other day and we were looking for someone that
could be really collaborative and working says oh I am really great when I
can just sit and do my work and make my decisions and just be over here all the
time and that just doesn’t work because we need you to be over here so again I
think it’s just through the storytelling and then of course asking more questions
to get clarification and not just taking what they’re saying as an absolute
but really just trying to understand it Audience: You mean something like tell me
a story where you completely undermined a team effort** **Laughter** Or tell me more about how you influenced a particular decision because that’s
collaboration as well right tell me about a team that didn’t report to you
but you needed to influence so how did you get them to come to you know a
decision that the company could embrace so digging deeper and deeper on
the behavioral interviewing of course yeah yeah I just going to add that you know past
behavior’s known to be the best predictor of future behavior so it’s all the same
thing right you know how do you get examples that you can point to and say
okay how would that play out in my organization I think we’re out of time
so Donna, Nicole, Carolyn thank you very much Thank you You’re welcome

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