This browser is not actively supported anymore. For the best passle experience, we strongly recommend you upgrade your browser.
| 3 minutes read

(Part 4) Building resilience in the pharma and life sciences sector: a guide for talent leaders

For Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series, visit here - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Pillars of Resilience 4: Structures

Having examined three key pillars of organisational resilience, we arrive at the fourth and final pillar. After attitudes, beliefs, and agility, structures are the final major component whose embedding into a business ensures it emerges stronger from times of crisis.

An Example: Talent Structures

Robust talent structures are often highlighted for the pivotal role they play in resilience, particularly following the Great Resignation and accompanying ‘War for Talent’ in which many businesses are caught. The Great Resignation, otherwise known as the Great Attrition or even the Great Reshuffle, is an economic trend that has, since the start of 2021, seen unprecedented numbers of employees resigning from their posts. Major motivations include poor company culture, lack of growth opportunities, inadequate flexible working models, childcare issues, and low salaries. Perhaps not too surprisingly, surveys have revealed that those who have found new employment are experiencing improved pay, opportunities, flexibility, and work-life balance than they had been offered by their previous post.

            The message from PwC’s latest Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey is clear; the Great Resignation is not over. 26% of the global workforce intends to resign in the next 12 months, compared to 19% last year, with employees feeling stifled and unfulfilled. Albeit that, as we saw earlier in this series, many global CEOs are anticipating a five-day return to offices, the data point in the opposing direction, towards the need for reinvention and the cooperant energy and support of the workforce

The War for Talent is an intertwined subject, referring to the increasingly competitive climate in which organisations are trying to retain and recruit employees. The most significant predictor of industry-adjusted attrition is toxic corporate culture, with job insecurity and failure to recognise employee performance among the top five. Interestingly, very high levels of innovation are counted as a dissuasive factor for employees, suggesting that innovation must not come at the expense of culture; business leaders must find a healthy medium. 

The Life Sciences industry is not a neutral party in the War for Talent; while it has always experienced attrition, there is today a higher proportion of talent migrating out of the sector altogether, forcing business leaders to rethink talent strategies that address not just attrition but an ever-widening skills gap. 80% of pharmaceutical companies reports a skills mismatch, indicating that, particularly in this climate, senior leaders need to re-evaluate recruitment and prioritise upskilling.  

Double exposure of a businessman and stairs. Success of business concept.


Equipping leadership

Executive education

Similarly to what we have seen in regard to the first three pillars, executive education programmes can help to develop senior management as they embed certain structures and frameworks into their organisations. A course like Mastering Talent Management: Hiring, Engaging, and Rewarding A+ Talent offered by Wharton equips talent leaders with methods, strategies, and tools for employee engagement, increased people analytics competency, and knowledge of incentive and reward frameworks. However, structures for resilience are by no means limited to talent. The Asian Institute of Management offered the course Crisis Leadership in November 2023, which aimed to empower learners to build crisis management structures into their leadership and businesses, including frameworks for situational assessment and crisis communication plans.

Rotational assignments

In the last instalment, I highlighted how rotational assignments can play a part in furnishing leaders and emerging leaders with cognitive agility. Indeed, a survey of 143 CHROs, conducted by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, found that providing rotational assignments for emerging leaders ranked highly for importance as a practice for developing future C-Suite, higher even than leadership development programmes or mentoring. The extent of their perceived importance is likely down to the truly empirical insight such assignments offer into different business areas, locations, project types, and indeed structures. Rotational assignments within business units and their varying working models and structures enhances a leader or aspirant leader's comprehension of the entire organisation and equips her to then create and tailor the right frameworks for resilience. 

Abstract blue giving hand with flying 3d DNA molecule helix. Gene editing genetic biotechnology, engineering concept. Low poly style. Graphic geometric. Wireframe light connection structure. Vector

Do you want to discuss your leadership talent strategy, or need help identifying and attracting the right leaders for your business?

A collaboration with AMS Executive Search means an holistic and nuanced approach to securing the best individuals for your life sciences organisation, from Drug Programme Leaders to Chief Commercial Officers. To have a conversation, please get in touch via LinkedIn or email.



ams, candidate attraction, employee enagagement, leadership, life sciences, talent acquisition, talent retention