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  • Date posted:03/05/2022
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By Harry Simpson

When COVID-19 became a thing more than two years ago, I posted about the impact that I believe it would have on the CDMO market; you can check out that report here.

At the time, my view was that we would see a significant shift in the demand for Regional / Local CDMO support and a move away from far-reaching international suppliers that provide more cost-effective solutions but with higher risk potential.

In that time, we have seen more than $150Bn of investment from Private Equity and the National Institutes of Health across North America alone in the fastest growth rate for the Life Sciences industry.

The second highest beneficiary of this funding across North America was PPD (Pharmaceutical Process Development), a business running under the operations of ThermoFisher Scientific. They received $1.8bn in funding between 2020 – 2021 alone. This really brings to the forefront the role Outsourcing organisations have played in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and the further support for the development of life-saving drugs and cancer therapies.

Naturally, with this level of investment comes growth. Growth in client demand, the requirement for resources, materials and, of course, talent. Over the next five years, 98% of Life Science organisations have set plans to increase their headcount, meaning that talent demand is higher than ever.

For CDMOs & CROs, there are a couple of challenges being faced, some new and some old:

  1. The industry has been known for having tighter budgets for salaries. This is due to the nature of the business being services-driven; however, over recent years, Outsourcing businesses have become more competitive in line with large Pharma & Biotech organisations.
  2. The CDMO market is exciting but highly fast-paced because you’re managing multiple partnerships simultaneously and having to deliver to a high standard of quality every time.
  3. With inflation rising in the US and across the globe, companies that lack flexibility or are too rigid to adapt quickly to market conditions are struggling to keep up with the pace.

Naturally, my team and I have been working hard to support some of the world’s leading and growing Outsourcing businesses with their most challenging searches. However, in addition to search support, we listened to our partners to understand their needs beyond Executive Search…

And over the past six months, we have established that our partners require services across five key pillars of the talent cycle; Attract, Assess, Search, Onboard & Retain.

These new service offerings have been beneficial in guiding our partners to make better hiring decisions in order to attract and retain the best talent.

One of the most significant challenges our Outsourcing partners face is “Now that we have secured our employees, how do we retain them within the business long term?”.

Outsourcing businesses’ greatest strengths are also their greatest weakness in talent retention. It comes down to the fact that CDMO & CRO employees make very marketable candidates within other industries. They are candidates who are good at working under pressure, are comfortable with being client-facing and topping it all off, they are usually outstanding, affordable profiles for local large-scale Pharma & Biotech businesses.

Therefore, given the sheer scale of hiring that has taken place across the market in the last 1-2 years, I see talent retention as being one of the most complex challenges leaders will face in the next 12 months. Competition plays an essential part and potential burnout due to the rapid response to covid-19 and other therapy development.

Fraser Dove International are the life science talent consultancy. In 2021 we transitioned from a traditional executive search firm to a talent consultancy, allowing us to provide our clients with a broader approach to hiring and retaining the right people for their business goals. 

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