A Pivot Towards Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) in the Baltics

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As the Lithuanian market matures, profound shifts have been taking place in the arena of human resources and how drug developers go about identifying, acquiring and retaining the personnel they require for a new age of medical science.

“There are a number of emerging trends underway that are forcing companies to rethink their headhunting processes”

Andrius Dauska, Pharmadrome

“There are a number of emerging trends underway that are forcing companies to rethink their headhunting processes,” claims Andrius Dauksa, founder of Pharmadrome, a full-cycle, pan-Baltic recruitment consultancy specializing in sourcing talent for the Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and Medical Device industries.

“In the aftermath of the financial crisis, pharma firms started outsourcing a much greater portion of their non-core functions and HR departments were trimmed down. Previously a number of well-known players had experimented with establishing in-house talent acquisition teams, but, in many instances, these were judged to be inefficient,” he says.

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In certain cases, the locus of outsourcing has also been displaced. “Previously, it was common for drug developers to commission local CROs and recruiters to source clinical research associates (CRAs) to do the monitoring of in-country clinical trials. Now that that the entire concept of outsourcing has gone mainstream and become much more widespread, you are seeing a tendency for big pharma firms to sign global master agreements with heavyweight multinational CROs like Covance, Parexel and Icon, which go right over the heads of any local actors,” notes Dauksa.

Another favoured option by many of big MNCs, nowadays, is to go for a sort of halfway house where they rent an entire team of recruiters for a fixed period of time from one or other of the established manpower agencies, such as Alexander Mann solutions or Hudson. “When your needs are more predictable, and you expect ten or more executive hires per year, this style of embedded on-site executive recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) solution can actually make a lot of sense. Many drug developers understand it is inefficient to be undertaking talent sourcing themselves, but being part of a rather conservative, strictly regulated industry where confidentiality is considered highly important, they are nevertheless still more comfortable having the processes taking place under their own roof,” reveals Dauksa.

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Other trends can be perceived in the evolving demand for certain types of profile. “Increased emphasis on real word evidence and navigating increasingly stringent regulatory frameworks is forcing many firms to buildup up new capabilities and skill sets: the huge medical reps teams of the past are tending to give way to specialist medical affairs and market access divisions and these need to be staffed with a different caliber of personnel with business acumen and an understanding of pharmaco-economics,” explains Dauksa. “Beforehand the preference was very much for medical doctor backgrounds, however, these days demand is booming for economists, mathematicians, software engineers and statisticians who are more comfortable processing and interpreting large and complex data sets… Molecular biologist profiles are especially sought after because they tend to possess a flair for mathematical sequencing and will be more familiar with the research side than an ordinary physician or general practitioner.”

Perhaps emblematic of how a new style of modus operandi is gaining traction within the Baltics, AstraZeneca has downsized the number of medical representatives deployed and has instead been harnessing digital predictive technology and insight sales especially for seasonal product categories such as vaccines.

The breakdown of Pharmadrome’s order book is also quite revealing as to the HR priorities of many pharma firms operative within the region. Some 50 percent of all requested personnel placements constitute commercial roles like sales marketing, key account managers, and product managers. Then 25 percent relates to sourcing medical affairs and market access officers and the remaining quarter comprise highly specialized roles like pharmacovigilance, data analysis or senior exec profiles.

Dauksa is predicting a similar leap in demand for market access professionals to be forthcoming in the medtech sphere. “The rules around medical devices are clearly starting to stiffen, with the advent of more invasive technologies. Hitherto, everything used to be handled by distributors because it was mostly a tender business and the product managers would fill in the forms themselves. However, greater convergence between medtech and pharma regulatory frameworks, and revisions to the legislation are now forcing companies to ramp up their capabilities in this area. Still we they have not yet reached a stage where the volume justifies having someone in house to perform that function full time and there has been a proliferation of boutique consultancies popping up offering assistance and mentoring in these specific competencies.”

Writer: Louis Haynes

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