The Life Science industry is a complex and constantly innovative sector. As a result, it requires unique leadership skills which, unsurprisingly, are short in supply. For example, in the Neuroscience and CNS sector, R&D processes remain challenging whilst demand continues to increase for niche talent with transferrable skills.
This leaves firms not only competing for scientific and technological skills, but also the financial and business acumen required. Irene Montgomery, Director at Life Sciences Search specialist, Coulter Partners, outlines some of the typical hiring dilemma facing boards: “We are so often asked to find NEDs with specialist expertise, scientific credentials, market experience, international reach and so forth.
“And it is vital the Chair can bring the best out of the whole Board. A great Chair needs to be strong, but not ego led. They must facilitate Board operations, appropriately opening and steering debate, listening and offering a sounding board to test ideas, while keeping a firm hand on the tiller.
“A road show may suddenly crop up and demand a great deal more time than might normally be expected of a Non-Executive Board Director. Flexibility is a huge factor in enjoying and being successful in such roles.”
Another tough market to navigate is Immuno-oncology. This is a relatively new area of medicine that focuses on the development of therapies which improve the body’s potential for generating an effective immune response against cancer. Digital health and medical technology is also on the rise, but its uncertainty in the marketplace requires both smart technology and leadership skills to drive performance. These areas provide a big challenge for search firms tasked with finding the right leadership.
However, according to Executive Grapevine’s 2016/17 UK Executive Search Rankings Report, Coulter Partners accounted for 14.5% of all assignments over £200,000 in the Pharmaceuticals & Life Sciences industry. A positive annual outcome despite obvious challenges,
Bianca Coulter, CEO of the firm, commented on their success: "It has been a very exciting few years of growth and geographic expansion, fuelled by market trends, diversification in our client base, and the addition of highly experienced new colleagues; our North American business is going from strength to strength and we are aligned with many of the strongest growth companies in Europe.
"Our Board practice is exceptionally busy. Another key driver has been increasing demand from large multi-national clients who are seeing us as differentiated in our ability to secure them specialist and competed for talent."