Fuelled by new technology and growing customer demand, consumer healthcare is burgeoning. Five-year forecasts predict growth of nearly 50% for the sector, up from c. $502bn to c. $737bn. People seeking control of their own health are becoming better informed and more demanding. From new vitamins and supplements to in-home diagnostics and mobile phone apps – people are finding easy and low cost access to health management information and products.

What does this mean for the healthcare industry? Fundamental change. Both pharma and consumer health organisations are having to re-think their commercial operating models – evolving to a digital mode that captures the interest of web-savvy consumers.

New talent needed to drive this rapidly changing market

The future of talent in large consumer health organisations is a mix of people with FMCG experience plus those from pharma. This combination brings complementary expertise, approach and mindset. The entrepreneurial, commercial and customer-centric consumer health industry needs the FMCG drive plus the influence of the highly-regulated pharma world.

Hiring ‘outside the box’ to promote innovation

One of the most powerful drivers of change has been external innovation from mergers, deals and collaborations. As a result, there’s a growing emphasis on recruiting from other sectors. Much of the new talent is being found in previously unlooked to ‘analogue’ industries that need to innovate and to move with changing markets. People with experience of the fast-moving generics and medical devices sectors are being seen as attractive prospects as is the allied nutrition sector. More recently the tech sector has become a supplier of digital experts who bring new skills to the mix. All these imports complement existing talent and drive more innovation, collaboration and customer understanding.

Getting the right balance of skills

With the growing significance of the regulatory function in consumer health there is more demand for those with the rigour of the pharma world. However, new arrivals need to be able to adapt to the different needs of the consumer model – neither being too restrictive nor compromising on integrity and ethics. Vital to their success are strong communication skills, strategic thinking and the ability to work across functions and cultures in a fast-paced and highly demanding environment.

R&D is also playing an increasingly powerful role in organisations where historically commercial has led. There is now an understanding of the need for close partnership between R&D and commercial, with the former increasingly influencing – and often driving – decision-making in the latter.

All of which means more competition for talent

It’s clear that the competition for talent has grown significantly. Pharma and consumer healthcare companies both have to develop a more customer-centred approach and are now in global competition for the same skills.

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