Posted by Prashanie Dharmadasa - Global Engagement Lead
HR transformation, Skills gap
Posted on May 8th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

PHARMAGEDDON – Houston we have a problem!

Dark clouds descend on the horizon…rogue comets pass though the earth’s asteroid belt pelting space debris like fireballs from the sky and a Texas sized asteroid marking our imminent extinction  – its only a matter of time!

OK that’s the Bruce Willis blockbuster, ‘Armageddon’ and I’m actually supposed to be talking about the latest Ochre House workshop on the looming talent crisis in the pharma industry – ‘Pharmageddon’ (but that very likely got more attention). Dramatic stuff…well this analogy isn’t that dramatic when we look at the looming talent crisis in the pharma industry – the very industry that saves mankind. Pharmageddon’s purpose was to bring HR Directors from pharma, medtech, biotech and CROs together to embark on a mission – a mission that would allow their organisations to become more agile, sustainable and improve business performance. To borrow a phrase from Mr Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, “None of you have to go. We can all just sit here on Earth and wait for this big rock to crash into us. United States government has just asked us to save the world. Any body wanna say no?“

To now bring it all back into context; we all know that the significant talent shortage poses a serious risk to business and coupled with the current macro drives in the industry such as the patent cliff, lack of emerging talent, healthcare reforms and sluggish scientific productivity, the outlook appears far from rosey. So do organisations feel that their current approach to talent acquisition is enough to stop a ‘Pharmageddon’ – or does it require a new way of thinking or even perhaps a new strategy?

When we look at this from a risk mitigation and sustainability standpoint, the ways in which we acquire talent call for a different approach. One way of overcoming this challenge is to build talent pools and pipelines to enable agility, sustainability and fuel future growth– it needs to be a strategic initiative which is sponsored by the business and HR. Now that’s not to say talent pools and pipelines would need to be built for all roles – workforce segmentation is critical! It’s about identifying what are the future capabilities your organisation is going to need and ensuring that a plan is in place to attract future talent and retain existing talent. So essentially future proofing your business to gain the best talent and competitive advantage.

In the same way that Bruce and his crew of blue collar oil drillers were put through a crash course to turn them into astronauts, HR professionals may need to re-outfit themselves as entrepreneurs in order to save the world and gain a credible seat on that space shuttle – or better still,  to lead the mission. But in doing so they will need to be asking the right questions – What are the people implications of your talent strategy? How does this sit alongside what you already have? What are the critical capability gaps? AND most importantly what is the cost to the business by not having a supply of talent on tap when needed?

Get it right and you may not just save your company, you may never have to pay taxes again…..

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