Puerto Rico’s close-knit pharmaceutical sector is aiming to attract new talent to the industry so as to further increase its global competitiveness.


There is a strong, robust ecosystem around the pharmaceutical industry on the island and we are looking to attract the new generation to work in it

Wendy Perry, PIA

Having one of the world’s highest density rates of pharmaceutical manufacturers per square mile, Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical sector is naturally very well connected. As a central organ in this environment stands the Pharmaceutical Industry Association (PIA) of Puerto Rico, which consists of member companies with both manufacturing and commercial operations on the island. With more than 37,000 employees, the competitive bioscience industry accounts for nearly 30 percent of Puerto Rico’s GDP and the association is representing its largest players.


Speaking on behalf of the industry, PIA President Wendy Perry therefore highlights the importance of “continuously developing talent, to retain and attract investment in the industry”. She underlines that “there is a strong, robust ecosystem around the pharmaceutical industry on the island and we are looking to attract the new generation to work in it.”


Part of this strategy is the annual Leadership + Innovation Summit, which was held this year at the La Concha Hotel at Condado Beach in San Juan on the 20th of June. The event, hosted by journalist Grenda Rivera, featured speakers from different industries such as media entrepreneur Carlos Cobian and news reporter Ana Belaval, with the goal of providing ideas and inspiration to the young generation of pharma leaders and transform them into agents of change.


Ileana Rivera, senior HR Director at Lilly, is heading the emerging talent team at PIA, which has been organizing these summits for the last five years. She underlines that “the main goal of the summit is to foster collaboration and strengthen the network within the industry.” Moreover, the purpose of the event is also to attract the younger generation to consider a career in the biopharmaceutical sector in Puerto Rico and, in this way, remain on the island.


She highlights that the summit is not aiming to “replace any of the excellent leadership development programs the big pharma companies on the island have internally, but rather provides an external perspective and should be seen as a supplement to these internal programs”. Looking back at previous editions of the summit, she acknowledges that “back then, most of the people attending were from manufacturing companies, while at this year’s event almost half of all attendees are from the commercial divisions of our member companies.”


This is only another indicator how the industry is coming closer together, with the ultimate goal of ensuring Puerto Rico’s global competitiveness for years ahead. This is notion is also shared by PIA, as Wendy Perry explains: “We will continue to serve as a manufacturing hub, building the talent and capabilities that are needed to keep Puerto Rico on the forefront of biopharmaceutical manufacturing around the world.”


Nevertheless, PIA is also acknowledging increasing global competition when it comes to attracting companies for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Considering the large footprint the industry already has on the island, Perry states that “retaining current investments will also be a major part of Puerto Rico’s future strategy.”