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Pharma's New Jobs Aimed at Changing Market

Counting pills. Drug makers are creating jobs to help them handle new government measures and regulations. Andrei Makhonin

When Anastasia Bikineyeva took a recruiter job at AstraZeneca earlier this year, it was a new position both for her and for the Russian arm of the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant.

Bikineyeva became AstraZeneca's first-ever recruitment lead in Russia, an example of a growing number of newly created pharmaceutical positions with more focused job responsibilities.

As one of the country's most resilient economic sectors, the pharmaceuticals sector has offered a steady if monotonous supply of jobs, mostly in sales. But as the government heightens the level of pharma regulation and companies aggressively develop their businesses here, detailed job descriptions like Bikineyeva's are becoming more common.

Her position is responsible for attracting new talent and retaining current employees through employer branding, said AstraZeneca's head of public relations, Yevgenia Gimervert. Bikineyeva, who accepted the Moscow-based job in February, said the role "was established because it became necessary to delegate this function to one person."

Manufacturing jobs in the sector are expected to increase as companies ramp up or introduce production in Russia under Pharma 2020, the government's strategy for raising the share of domestically produced medicines from 23 percent to 50 percent by 2020.

That industrial growth isn't expected immediately, however. Though some new manufacturing-related jobs are appearing, most newly created positions are management roles, according to analysts and personnel in the field.

To Each His Own Task

Today, hiring is increasing in Russia at multinational pharmaceutical companies, and the sector is among the three most active in terms of recruiting employees, a number of experts have said.

Sales and marketing jobs, which make up two-thirds of vacancies in the pharma segment, will continue to enjoy the most demand, analysts said. But even in this area, job responsibilities are becoming more specific, said Mark Nessbach, senior director at Russian headhunting firm Staffwell.

"The vacancies are getting more and more sophisticated," said Nessbach, a healthcare expert. Given the increased growth and competition in the pharma segment, "employers are looking for highly specialized staff," he said. Staffwell works largely with Western companies in its pharmaceuticals recruiting.

For their sales departments, for instance, companies are seeking job candidates who have dealt with various distribution channels, including regional or large-scale distributors, Nessbach added.

The rising sophistication of jobs in the pharma field is evident in today's job responsibilities, which are becoming more varied, said David Melik-Guseinov, director of health care research company Cegedim Strategic Data.

In today's market, each company "has its own tasks" for a certain position, said Melik-Guseinov, who is also chairman of the health care committee for business association Delovaya Rossia.

Job responsibilities have made a transition from "undifferentiated" to specific, Melik-Guseinov said. "If before it was all the same … now it's custom-built specialists who need to have a unique skill," he said. Earlier, "a sales representative, whether at AstraZeneca, at Pfizer, at Novartis, they were all the same without any surprises," he noted.

Although sales staff recruitment at AstraZeneca Russia will continue to center on "homogenous requirements and homogenous positions" for promoting medicines among doctors, it is also seeking more specialized marketing staff, said AstraZeneca human resources director Olga Molina.

AstraZeneca plans to unveil a new drug in Russia at the end of the year, and the company is searching for personnel with experience successfully promoting similar products, Molina said.

"We're looking for people with more serious experience, with distinctive personal qualities and motivations," she said. Molina declined to say what the new drug is.

Sales and marketing, though a big part of the picture, isn't the only area of the pharmaceutical segment with new job descriptions, recruiters and pharmaceutical experts said.

Government Relations

New management roles, for instance, are needed as the Russian drug market develops and expands. Molina noted that there are positions specializing in corporate culture and ethical business practices, "a discipline that the company is now paying a lot of attention to."

"Because of our company's active growth and new requirements in Russia, fundamentally new roles are appearing ... for us an organization, and they're very specific," she said.

Government relationship manager, market access manager, business ethics manager and pricing manager are some other new roles in pharmaceuticals, said Tatyana Sosnovskaya, a partner at Russian headhunting firm Flex.

In addition, the position of pharmaco-economist, which helps to determine the cost effectiveness of treatments, has gone from a "great rarity" to forming the basis for entire departments, she said.

The more varied crop of jobs is partly a result of increasing government regulation, Melik-Guseinov said. Recent legislation includes last year's Federal Law No. 61-FZ, which places greater restrictions on the registration, clinical trials process, production and pricing for pharmaceuticals.

Today the industry is seeking personnel specializing in government relations, Melik-Guseinov said. He singled out the job of market access manager — that position focuses on improving communication between business interests and the government — as an example of the response to increased regulation.

"Today war is being waged not on the field of consumers, but on the field of regulators, so you need to be integrated in the government apparatus," he explained. "For this reason, market access and [government relations] skills are in greater favor."

Thierry Teil, managing director for Russia & CIS at Belgian biopharma UCB, said "a shortage of expertise" in Russia "has led to a talent war where many companies are looking to hire similarly trained professionals at the same time."

"To manage this situation, UCB has invited a global expert from our headquarters to bring in the know-how, develop internal structures and coach the team," he said by e-mail.

The Right Job

In the course of her job search, Bikineyeva looked for work in the telecom, information technology, consumer goods and consulting industries in addition to AstraZeneca. She previously had been the Russian staffing lead for an international information technology company, and she wanted to find work at a big, growing company.

After eight months of searching, Bikineyeva went into pharmaceuticals because she liked the industry's growth prospects and because the job requirements suited her strengths.

"There wasn't a need for the kind of experience that I have" in slower-growing industries, Bikineyeva said. "They just needed good-quality recruiters, not organizers of the recruitment process, like what I do now" at AstraZeneca, she said.

Molina, of AstraZeneca, said specific qualifications play a large role in the recruiting process in Russia. Educational qualifications are critical, though a candidate should also demonstrate his or her competence and successful past job performance, she said.

In Russia, "it's very important to understand the terminology and understand pharmaceuticals and the [relevant] area of medicine," Molina said.

Interviews with headhunters suggested that there's a deficit of skilled job candidates — and a lot of opportunity — in the pharma sector. With hiring up but the number of Russian pharmaceutical graduates static, it is becoming more difficult to find skilled specialists, and competition among pharma companies to hire those specialists is on the rise, headhunters said.

"The fact that highly specialized professionals are getting rare in the market is one of the reasons we are again seeing increases in salary levels," Nessbach said.

Pharma 2020

The production goals laid out by Pharma 2020, which was adopted in October 2009, have begun to add jobs, according to some headhunting firms. Recruitment has been picking up for pharmaceutical production-related jobs, as well as for support roles such as purchasing, said Yulia Nikitina, managing partner for Boyden Russia, part of the global executive search company.

"The activity started after the [Pharma 2020] program was adopted," Nikitina said. But she noted that candidates who meet all of the desired criteria for new manufacturing positions — such as having specialized education, training in budgeting and familiarity with good manufacturing practice, or GMP — "almost don't exist."

Graduates of pharmacy courses at Russian educational institutions, which still teach according to Soviet-era standards and often do not teach GMP, are "ready to work in a pharmacy but not in manufacturing, marketing or research and development" at a pharmaceutical company, Melik-Guseinov said.

Meanwhile, the government-driven developments in pharmaceutical production, as well as nuclear medicine, have led to new jobs in these areas, Sosnovskaya said.

For Flex, nuclear medicine "is a completely new discipline," she said. "We got them for the first time this year," she said of the vacancies that they received. According to Sosnovskaya, Flex currently has five vacancies in nuclear medicine. Since spring 2010, the firm has also noticed an uptick in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Now there are about four to five vacancies a month, an increase over two to three a month earlier, she said.

Other headhunters said Pharma 2020 will start to affect recruitment only once pharmaceutical companies finish building the manufacturing plants under way in places such as Yaroslavl and the Kaluga region. Yury Virovets, president of recruitment company HeadHunter Group, said that "for now, we haven't seen an effect from the strategic program."

Russian Factories Planned By International Drug Companies
AstraZenecaKaluga region$150 million
GalenikaKaluga regionest. $40 million
NovartisSt. Petersburgest. $140 million
Novo NordiskKaluga regionest. $100 million
NycomedYaroslavl$110 million

— MT

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