With the spate of downsizing take place - Bristol-Myers Squibb tomorrow will formally announce layoffs already under way and others such as Glaxo continuing to trim as the end of the year nears - we thought this may be a good time to offer some words of encouragement. In short, there is hope. As RegentAtlantic Capital, a personal-finance consulting firm, notes in a recent report, the future is uncertain. But there are ways to recover and remain in one piece.
And so while we ran an item last month about their report, this may be a good time to take stock and consider the workworld mantra - brand yourself. In other words, as you seek your next position, remember that you are selling a product- you. For many in pharma, this means deciding whether you are what the firm calls a specialist - an individual with very narrow, but extremely sophisticated expertise or an â€œathlete,â€ someone who has the ability to play many different roles and to manage and work with many different specialists.
An example of the specialist would be "someone with the knowledge and contacts required to get a certain type of compound through different stages of the regulatory approval process, a skill at deciphering certain aspects of the findings from an early phase of a clinical trial, or knowledge about how different payers approach the pricing of a class of drugs. Drugmakers can't afford to hire on a permanent basis all expertise needed to move a new compound through the different stages of development. Instead, they will overpay individuals who will let them â€œrentâ€ their expertise as long as needed.
And the athlete? In pharma, "the chief role of athletes is to manage complexity...
...finding a way to balance all of the parts that must work together (R&D, marketing and finance) and still produce a sufficient return on capital. However, succeeding as an athlete in this industry in the future will be particularly challenging (compared with other industries), because it will also require a deep technical knowledge of a company's products and R&D processes. This kind of expertise underlies all of the risks and opportunities of the pharmaceutical business.
But you can't be both, the firm advises. "It's essential to avoid being caught in the middle of these two approaches to career planning. The days of
being able to function as a partial expert who can also manage some aspects of the R&D or marketing processes are numbered. Individuals who are neither specialists nor great athletes will quickly become expendable," Regent writes.