Regardless of whether you are based in China, Europe or the Americas, the pandemic has opened up new ways of working and collaborating in a matter of months. Workplaces of all kinds, including hospitals, schools, and offices have been forced to fast-track remote working and digitalisation agendas in response to compulsory lockdowns and enforced social distancing. From a Life Sciences perspective, 2020 has seen an exponential increase in Digitalisation and AI developments: in Telehealth, Health Technology, MedTech, and Drug Development.
We are witnessing a shift in demand for scientific, technical, and commercial leadership talent with specific expertise in Life Sciences and Healthcare technologies, particularly in emerging markets and fast growth economies. Private Equity and various conglomerates are strategically focusing on the areas where demand has increased the most: (Bio)Pharma, Vaccines, Diagnostics, and Medical Supplies.
We have heard about the growing potential of remote working from clients who are scouting for talent in new areas such as Genomics and Viral Vaccines that require new competencies; this new way of working is allowing them to increase the depth and diversity of the talent pool. Moreover, in more traditional cultures, remote working can be employed to facilitate more Diversity & Inclusion hiring.
Need for a different Leader
Virtual teams will result in new corporate cultures. Companies should use this unique momentum and impetus to adapt the business environment with new processes and innovative ways of communicating. This will demand contemporary, visionary leaders who are change agents with the agility to transform organisations and evolve within the new normal.
Other soft skills will be required to form and lead virtual teams, and to foster cohesion and cooperation. An entirely new competency for successful remote leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate via the screen and with other digital tools. Old school management is gone for good. Efficiency has been boosted in many areas, but we have lost the benefits of meeting at the coffee machine for an informal catch-up discussion or a shortcut in decision-making.
At this point, the advantages of remote working and video-conferencing have been confirmed, and it is clear that they are here to stay. Yet, after months of confinement and remote working, we have all started to realise that there are aspects of working in physical proximity to our colleagues that we cannot recreate in a home office. It is therefore essential to innovate, and to find new ways to create team spirit and keep engagement at a high level. This will help companies to retain their best people and attract strong new hires.
Long-distance and even cross-border working opportunities are opening up as we become accustomed to working remotely with our teams; this applies primarily to middle management, but also to senior management.
Change of senior hiring in the new normal
Digitalisation, AI and social media can help with the identification and recruitment process. In virtual teams that work together while physically dispersed, the opportunity to recruit leaders from other locations makes for a larger pool of potential candidates. However, we have noticed that in a crisis such as this, most professionals are employing extra caution and risk avoidance in their career decisions.
A personal approach, connection, or network can be the defining touch for a successful interview, offer and job acceptance. International executive search consultants – with their cross-border networks, cultural agility and leadership assessment skills – can add significant value here. Executive search firms help to attract candidates who are not actively looking for a new job in uncertain times, by acting as a catalyst and bringing the new employer branding to the right people. Specialist consultants with sector knowledge, geographical and/or functional expertise, will be more credible, thus more successful in engaging in meaningful conversations with executives. Moreover, international search consultants can assess the cultural fit of candidates, and support the final offer. By taking an integrated approach, working with headquarters and local offices, communicating in the candidate’s own language and considering the cultural context, international executive search consultants can make the difference in cross-border leadership hires.