Sifting the trends into 2016

If the latest edition of the Antal Global Snapshot (AGS) on annual global hiring and firing trends is any indicator, hiring in India’s pharmaceutical industry is picking up and set to firm up in the next quarter

20151215ep02If the latest edition of the Antal Global Snapshot (AGS) on annual global hiring and firing trends is any indicator, hiring in India’s pharmaceutical industry is picking up and set to firm up in the next quarter. Across the globe too, the survey says less firms are laying off and more are hiring. In India, pharma firms surveyed in September put the sector’s hiring at 62 per cent, which is predicted to increase marginally to 64 per cent in this quarter.

But pharma firms in India also had a high firing level (32 per cent), set to increase to 37 per cent this quarter, the highest among all sectors, according to the AGS. Antal International India’s Managing Director Joseph Devasia clarifies that most shedding is due to performance issues with individual candidates, and should not be taken as an indicator of the sector’s financial health. In fact, hiring within India’s pharma sector is set to remain buoyant into the next year, but without much increase in head count. Sales and marketing profiles will continue to see high levels of recruitment, followed by compliance roles in the quality control and regulatory affairs division, the latter most obviously in response to the constant pressure to meet increased regulatory scrutiny and raised benchmarks on pharma manufacturing and pharmacovigilance. These are also the profiles where senior experienced talent is scarce.

The AGS is more or less in line with the rationale that M&As like the Sun Pharma-Ranbaxy deal caused an exodus from the latter over the past year. Industry insiders say that while this was a painful period for Ranbaxy employees, good talent was poached and snapped up by competition.

M&As between global and Indian pharma companies are fraught with another layer of complexity: that of a cultural disconnect which unless rectified, can lead to disaster. As HayGroup’s Global Managing Director, Life Sciences Ian Wilcox puts it, global pharma companies need to find people who are “Indian at heart, with global technical operations skills” to execute this manufacturing transformation to global compliance. The acquiring company cannot hope to achieve seamless integration unless the senior management of the acquired company are taken on board and are part of all decision making initiatives. The message about “total accountability” has to filter down the line to every level of the company. The company will thus have to hire for skills and aptitude as well as attitude if they are to match the right people to the right profiles.

Investment in the pharma, lifescience and healthcare sectors promises to stay steady if not increase. 2016 will see global biopharma companies as well as technology solution providers go even more aggressive in emerging markets, while Indian pharma companies do the reverse: strive to build market share in matured markets; particularly in the US, EU and Japan. The December 1-15 issue, our 21st anniversary special as well as the CPhI-PMec India special, has thought leaders sifting the trends. 2016 could also see health moving further up the political agenda. Several initiatives driven by the Centre, like the Jan Aushadhi Scheme, the Swacchh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, etc impact the health delivery mechanism directly or indirectly and political parties could leverage these as poll issues to whip up voter angst. But, can we translate political rhetoric into a healthcare infrastructure that will last? Only time will tell.

Viveka Roychowdhury

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First published on: 30-11-2015 at 11:49 IST