Booming Economy Accentuates Need for Biotech Search Firms with Commitment to Excellence and Diversity
With the heated competition for talent across all life science verticals, many companies are engaging with biotech search firms to help secure the C-suite leaders they need to succeed. By leveraging the expertise and networks that the best biotech search firms have developed over many years, those cutting-edge companies that are making incredible life-saving breakthroughs in biomedicine, diagnostics, food sciences, genomics, and data analytics are able to focus their energies on research, discovery, regulatory approvals, and marketing.
By almost all metrics, the biotech industry is booming across the United States, underscoring the critical importance of biotech search firms. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) reports that more than 1.7 million people are now directly employed in the field, a 19 percent increase since 2001, with the average worker earning $99,000 in 2016. Compensation inflation is just one of six major talent challenges facing the industry, according to a recent CBRE report entitled “Markets Positioned for ‘Century of Biology’,” the others being poaching, job hopping, relocation, talent development, and small business squeeze.
Another way to measure the industry’s vibrancy is through the impacts it has on local economies. A new study by Cushman and Wakefield finds that vacancy for lab space is only 7.1% across the top 12 life sciences clusters in North America, compared to a 12.4% overall office vacancy rate. In Boston, according to the study, only .8% of lab space is currently unoccupied, driving rents up to a record high $108 per square foot.
But make no mistake, the biotech boom is not limited to just the biggest life sciences clusters. Several mid-size cities like Winston-Salem are also experiencing a surge, as reported by the New York Times.
As rents rise, so does pressure on companies and their management to develop and market innovative drugs, therapies, and other potential life-altering products. Therefore, the competition for top talent to lead these companies is becoming more and more intense. That is precisely where biotech search firms come into the picture. They specialize in identifying and recruiting the top-level C-suite executives who will be an excellent fit for the partner company and its culture.
It is also certainly true that the biotechnology landscape is constantly shifting. While many antibiotics biotech firms are now struggling, according to The Economist, a slew of companies focusing on data and artificial intelligence are now exploding, as reported in the Financial Times. Biotech search firms need to keep abreast of all industry developments, so that their recruiting efforts are completely aligned with market trends.
A major challenge for biotech companies is diversity. BioPharma Dive reports that fewer than 10% of industry leaders are women. Just 16 of the 194 executives identified in their recent analysis were female. The gender imbalance is even more pronounced at the top, with just one female CEO amongst the top 25 largest (by value) pharma and biotech companies.
What can be done to address the problem? Leslie Loveless, CEO of Slone Partners, one of the nation’s top biotech search firms, contends that diversity in the C-suite is a critical ingredient for long-term success.
“The best leadership teams in the life sciences and other industries reflect the ever-changing consumer marketplace,” Loveless wrote in a commentary published by the Boston Business Journal. “Companies whose leaders don’t reflect the marketplace miss out or move too slowly to recognize and respond to emerging market trends, while competitors with diverse teams are more likely to diagnose those shifts quickly and act on them. Diverse leaders help shape the internal culture of their organization and drive the innovative technologies and market strategies necessary to succeed in an industry where there is constant upheaval.”
The best biotech search firms recognize the need for diverse leadership within their partner organizations, and strive hard to achieve gender parity within their candidate pools. They strategically design their network strategies to identify, engage, and recruit women and people of color. Those companies that partner with exceptional biotech search firms like Slone Partners are committed to building the most talented and diverse leadership teams possible in order to succeed in such a competitive and fast-growing marketplace.