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A Letter on Talent to the Biotech Leader

Posted by Bowdoin on November 11, 2022

Leading a biotech company is not for the faint of heart. Although many things keep you up at night, talent remains on the shortlist.

It is sometimes said that strategy combines planning, resources, and opportunity. When thinking about talent, too often, the focus remains on the first two, but you can not respond to the market and secure top talent without regard to the third. Although many aspects of today’s market are opportunistic, sound planning and the appropriate use of resources can ensure transformational talent for your organization.  

  • In biotech, the organizational impact is not determined by title or rank. It is defined by those who best move your organization forward to the next inflection point. With this in mind, it may be that two Research Associates are more critical than a Vice President of Discovery or an additional C-suite member. Focusing on your business needs is essential, even when conventional wisdom or BOD pressures may tell you to hire according to the standard hierarchical plan. The pandemic, and the subsequent new mindset in biotech, have taught us that “standard” is pass√©. To get different outcomes, you need to think differently. When a client comes to us with a search, rather than reviewing the job specifications, we ask, “What problem are you trying to solve?” When asked this simple question, it leads to a change in the role close to 30% of the time. Frequently the new position is at a different level than previously envisioned. 
  • Taking advantage of opportunities requires planning. The one upside to lay-offs is they temporarily deliver talent to the local market allowing companies to hire opportunistically. Unfortunately, once a resume book has circled your local network, those top-talent candidates have often secured a new home. Companies can be so rigid in their hiring plan they cannot react to opportunistic hires. More than ever, we are working with our clients to understand their upcoming business needs to put them in a position to act opportunistically. 
  • Make sure you either have the internal infrastructure or are aligned with a talent partner who can rapidly react to your needs and the market conditions to secure top talent. Use your network strategically while reinforcing unintentional biases. Develop an all-encompassing hiring plan to maximize your scarce resources in identifying and securing talent.

In reaction to today’s market conditions, The Bowdoin Group has continued to improve our high-touch RPO service to work in partnership with our Executive Search model. We have seen the benefits of being both agile and strategic during market swings. With the appropriate planning and resources, you may even be able to get some sleep! 

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your strategy for building a team. Please contact Lindsey Potvin.