2018 Pharma hiring trends: Anil Kumar ET, Co-Founder, Xpheno

When is the best time for pharma professionals to switch jobs? January to April seems the best bet, with pharma companies typically awarding increments in the range of 25- 40 per cent for job switching candidates. The same hikes are in the range of 15- 30 per cent post May, points out Anil Kumar ET, Co-Founder, Xpheno

The pharma sector in India has been a stable sector for hiring for a long time now. 2018 opens with a similar promise. Pharma companies who are focussed on the domestic market have a different outlook to hiring compared to Indian MNCs which are focussed on international markets. Nevertheless, both sectors have a reasonably positive outlook. Pharma Sector has never churned up large hiring numbers like IT or Banking sector. But, still has incrementally shown positive trends for experienced job seekers as well as freshers.

The Global MNC Factor:

The Global MNCs are at a stability phase in India and their hiring is more on replacement and incremental expansion. But some of the large Fortune 500 MNCs have set up their own captive centres where they continue to expand and add new jobs in R &D or CRO in significant numbers. Novartis, Paraxel in Hyderabad, Quintiles, Novo Nordisk, Eli Lilly in Bangalore are few examples of how Pharma companies can benefit from pharma talent available in India for their global operations. More MNC companies are likely to follow this route. Pharma companies like Astra Zeneca and few more setting up their IT Centres in India will continue to happen, but that hasn’t added Pharma jobs yet. But, you never know.

Indian MNCs:

Indian MNCs need to be agile to every profitable drug going off patent in the years ahead. This means having a high capacity R&D to innovate to get to ANDA stage. Addition of R&D and regulatory capacity will see addition of new incremental jobs in 2018.The top five Indian pharma companies spent nearly $1.2 billion on research and development in financial year 2017—a six-fold increase from seven years ago. Much of it gets invested in talent capacity building.

This would also lead to more roles in manufacturing and production specially in generics space. Business analytics, marketing and communication would continue to be few roles in demand at any corporate office of these Indian pharma MNCs. With focus on quality and due to the US FDA regulations – QA, QC & regulatory affairs roles will see continuous demand.

Large players like Biocon, Cipla, Glenmark are also building on their capabilities in the biosimilars space. R&D and regulatory roles continue to be in demand for these kinds of organisations.

Clinical Research Organisations (CROs) will only see incremental hiring. Here the hiring will be more deliberate. Some of the roles would be in clinical research – RA, pharmacokinetics, pharmacovigilance, life cycle management (LCM),

Compensation dynamics

Due to the headcount budgets and cycles of hiring, companies typically give increments in the range of 25- 40 per cent for people switching jobs between January to April. The same hikes are in the range of 15 – 30 per cent post May.

So, if you are professional, planning to switch jobs, you know when is the good time! Internal hikes would be around 11 per cent on an average across levels and companies.

The attrition in sales roles, entry level QA/QC roles will continue to be high in the range of 16- 22 per cent. Overall as an industry it would be around 18 per cent.

The pharma sector in India with a market size of $ 20 billion remains a sunshine sector. The continued focus on R&D and strengthening of sales channels would mean good times for hiring in 2018 too.