APAC Life Sciences Think Tank 2019

To equip senior talent acquisition practitioners and decision makers at life sciences and healthcare organizations in Asia Pacific with best practices and solutions for facing the competitive and challenging workforce market in that industry, Cielo recently hosted a think tank in Singapore.

Pricing pressures, changing regulatory environment and increased public scrutiny drive global life sciences and healthcare organizations to demonstrate value through innovation and contribute to effective patient outcomes. As treatments become more targeted and tailored for patients, the need for specialized talent to develop and deliver these solutions grows. Additionally, in a survey at the event, attendees identified talent acquisition as their organizations’ top People priority in the near future and that the increased competition for talent is a top challenge. For example, for Michael Wong, Managing Director of Fresenius Medical in Malaysia, specialized talent means having an international mindset and knowledge of local compliance standards. And for Daniel Anggono, head of Market Access at Sanofi, it’s more than knowledge, it’s the attitude and cultural dexterity that differentiates successful talent in the vertical.

Cielo’s Singapore event gave talent acquisition leaders opportunities to share new approaches to recruit, train, motivate and retain the best teams to support business transformation and growth in the “Patient First” era. Discussions also touched on topics beyond talent to include the maturity of healthcare organizations in terms of structure, business models, unique industry challenges as well as the trajectory of innovation and changes waiting to engulf the life sciences industry.

Top People Priority for 2020

Event attendees included human resources, talent acquisition and business leaders from Sanofi, GSK, Ferring Pharma, OUE Lippo, United Family Healthcare, Fresenius Medical, Boston Scientific, LivaNova, Siemens Healthcare and others, and consulting firms like EY and Mercer.

Here is a brief recap of the insights shared at this event:

Phuong Huynh, Head of Talent Acquisition for Asia at Sanofi, led the first sharing session. Sanofi is a French multinational Pharma company and Phuong presented on the talent acquisition approach large life sciences companies should take for a competitive and strategic advantage. She shared how changing from a decentralized country-based model to a centralized and consistent regional model using recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) has helped Sanofi enhance stakeholder experience, improve quality of talent coming into the organisation, reduce time to fill key roles, scale up and down to support changing business needs and achieve significant savings in recruitment spend.

Jeff Staples, Chief Operating Officer of United Family Healthcare in China, talked about the challenges they face attracting, retaining, engaging, and developing talent. He admitted that there remains an acute shortage of experienced senior executive and leadership talent in healthcare in Asia and this is a real constraint faced by investors and operators as they look to grow in this region. Jeff explained that this shortage led him to partner with executive search firms to procure experienced leadership talent from relatively more mature markets like the US, UK, Australia and even Singapore.

External Factor will impact TA in 2020

Table discussions followed the sharing sessions, and these breakouts gave each group an opportunity to focus on key tactics for maximizing recruitment success. Here are four of the major takeaways from those lively discussions:

Engage Millennial and Gen Z Workforce

For Millennials, “cause” is important. They need to know the work they do makes a difference. This should drive the engagement principles within organizations to emphasize things like work-life balance and minimal manual systems, and to make sure that they promote those on social media regularly.

Align Talent KPIs with Business Objectives

The group discussed how many HR leaders are managers and not strategic thinkers or planners. It’s imperative to link HR to operational KPIs to drive the change in mindset and demonstrate how investments in talent can positively impact business results.

Invest in employer brand to strengthen your employee value proposition

Attendees agreed that investments in employer branding give the maximum benefits to their effectiveness. Organizations should strengthen (and localize where needed) their EVP and teach hiring managers that bringing new talent to the organisation is a critical part of their jobs. The group also discussed how organisations should develop a larger pool of candidates by moving beyond traditional job descriptions and requirements, developing personas and introducing flexibility to hire 60-70% persona fit candidates and leave room for learning and growth. Another important takeaway was the need for the industry to collaborate with educational institutions in industry-important locations to develop curriculum that responds to the evolving industry needs.

Abhay Bangi of EY shared that the realities of Life Sciences 4.0 create both challenges and opportunities for businesses. These include talent considerations such as developing and acquiring a digital ready workforce, improved strategic workforce planning, creating a strong sense of purpose and creating modern physical environments that accelerate workforce effectiveness.

Investments enhance TA effectiveness

Cultivate a Risk-Taking Culture to Innovate

To innovate and lead in these competitive and complex industries of life sciences and healthcare, organisations need to embrace a risk-taking culture while providing adequate support and motivation mechanisms. Situational leadership competency and emotional EQ is extremely important and leadership talent need to be assessed for these.

Tim Stanscheit of Mercer pointed out that while the life sciences industry is based on the ethos of research, innovation and risk, it is still quite traditional regarding innovative talent acquisition and management approaches. Louis Tan of OUE Lippo Healthcare echoed Stanscheit’s thoughts and shared how ambitious, family-run healthcare organizations in APAC struggle to adopt new approaches to attract and groom talent.

Jeff Staples explained how United Family Healthcare’s segmented developmental programs have helped to teach their managers how to give employees the right amount of freedom and structure to succeed.

Hear what some of the participants said about the event:​