Why perceptions of careers in life sciences need to change
For those already working in the Life Sciences sector, the breadth and scale of opportunity, innovation and creativity is already understood. However, it is the projected image to the next generation – or other demographics with untapped talent - that insiders say big-name pharma brands need to improve.
The sector has had to keep pace with rapid advances in technology, and find candidates with the right combination of scientific qualification and technological experience to apply to the new Life Sciences landscape. Attracting higher volumes of cross-sector talent to the industry is vital if it is to maintain its momentum.
"Life sciences offers a commercial career, driven by a unified goal to improve the lives of the people."
Commentator Sarah Buhr, explains: "Breakthroughs in genetic engineering, 3D printing, cloud-based science experiments, A.I. and machine learning technology have created a weird and cool new kind of cutting-edge biotech that goes beyond pharma into what just a few decades ago seemed like magical thinking."
The life sciences industry has a reputation for innovation, and rightly so; from the resurrection of the woolly mammoth to treating cancers with personalised immunotherapies; or how about exploring the inner workings of live cells without any intrusive stains or labels? These innovations make waves within the industry, but (on the whole) pass largely unnoticed by the general public. Promoting these innovations is key to triggering engagement with the next generation of life sciences stars.
"There is an increasing need for commercial people to be more innovative and creative."
As Stephen Caddick, the Wellcome Trust’s director of innovation, says: "make life science entrepreneurship ‘cool’…If we can capture the imagination of the broader population, we will motivate innovators and attract the best minds."
Scientists aren’t known for their creativity – a career based on data, methodical research, testing and measurement does not lend itself to lateral thinking. Or so the perception is – the reality, in fact, is rather different. Designing experiments and exploring the capabilities of new technologies all tap into an innate creativity that scientists possess.
Jolien Thunnissen is Senior Sales Manager for specialist recruiter, Real Life Sciences, and explains: "There are so many exciting opportunities in this sector – I work closely with the commercial side of life sciences, and there is an increasing need for commercial people to be more innovative and creative. You’re expected to think outside of the box, just from a scientific angle."
In the commercial side of the life sciences sector, a surprising roll call of disciplines is in demand.
"We’re always looking for medical advisors, for example," explains Thunnissen, "and we find that companies want candidates trained in medicine – doctors and nurses – to represent and endorse their products to governments or pharmacies. They want that senior level representation to reassure organisations that the products are scientifically sound, and are the right drugs for the right people.
"But doctors don’t know these roles even exist – changing perceptions of the industry would help this."
A career in life sciences is not simply one based on biology, biochemistry and pharmaceuticals. The new era of life sciences also demands skills in technology, negotiating and a knowledge of health economics.
Underpinning it all, says Thunnissen, is the capability the sector has to deliver a commercial career that also offers the opportunity to improve people’s lives.
Contact a Real Life Sciences consultant today to discuss your recruitment needs: [email protected]