Express Pharma

Technological advancement holds potential to reshape pharma industry

Ashwini Prakash, Managing Partner, Stanton Chase India and APAC lead - Pharma, Healthcare, Life Sciences and Consumer products, shares her perspective and observations on current and future trends, diversity and inclusion in pharma industry and how the talent landscape will reshape given the technological advancements in the sector, in an interview with Express Pharma

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You have been at the core of hiring leaders for pharma health care life sciences industry. Due to the ongoing pandemic, what practices and trends do you see will reshape the future of pharma and healthcare industry from the talent perspective?

We are seeing a huge shift in the way healthcare products and services are being consumed, predominantly driven by technology. The disruption caused by the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation in the pharma industry. Even the corporates who already embarked on this journey had to pause, reflect, and revisit their operating model, by slicing and dicing of the processes to carve out portions of the work which have either become redundant or can be digitalised or worked remotely. We might witness a change in the way traditional manufacturing units work in the future. Industry 4.0 will enable increased manufacturing productivity, accurate forecasting and planning, and better supply chain management in the healthcare sector. This will lead to design change and will have a significant impact on talent landscape within the organisations. There will be a new set of emerging competencies to meet this need. For e.g., the corporates will be more open to outsource or hire talent across borders, basis new skill and competencies, thus overcoming the mobility barrier. Local talent will have to now compete with the international talent pool for key roles. Digitalisation translates to more influx of young tech-savvy professionals into the system. These technological advancements and trends have a great potential to spur diversity with reference to gender, age, industry experience and cultural backgrounds.

D&I is in the top agenda for all organisations. Has the pharma and healthcare industry been welcoming of women leaders across all levels?

One of the key characteristics of pharma and healthcare industry is that it is heavily science-based, highly regulated and strict on compliance. These characteristics had led to inbreeding from the talent perspective. Though the pharma and healthcare industry started late on Diversity and Inclusion subject, it gained momentum swiftly and today is topping the chart along with other progressive industries. The pharma industry was quick to realise that when a diverse, talented group of people work together, there is a better exchange of ideas, viewpoints, market insights and problem-solving skills. Most corporates are not just doing lip service but have made D&I a part of their global hiring and people policy and have started measuring the diversity ratios. While the pharma and healthcare industry has been welcoming of women leaders, most top jobs are still underrepresented. Each company is at a different level of progress on the overall diversity chart. Happy to share, we at Stanton Chase are signatory to the 30 per cent club and we are committed in spirit and in writing for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hiring. Our promise is to provide a good gender representation for every leadership hiring project we undertake.

How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?

The definition of leadership to me is that of an ‘enabler’. I believe in adaptive leadership, the essence of which is to mobilise teams, their energies and collective intelligence in achieving common goals. Staying positive tops my chart. I learn through my experience by continuously venturing out of my comfort zone and I advocate this to my team as well. Thanks to my profession, I get to meet professionals across industries with varying experiences, ideas and perspectives which increases my diversity quotient.

I would like to credit my learnings to Judith E Glaser’s book on ‘Conversational Intelligence’. I draw a lot of inspiration and learning from her book and her programmes.

How do you maintain a work-life balance? What do you do to unwind?

Happy to share my secret sauce! I keep this very simple. My day revolves around work, family, and self. I make time for all the three on any given day. Some days are exceptions where one gets prioritised over the other, but mostly I meet my agenda. Free time to me means, reading, fitness, chatting with loved ones.

I keep myself engaged with some or the other interesting projects to keep my creative juices flowing, my latest being interior designing of my new home!

What advice do you have for someone starting out in the industry?

Be curious and ask questions. Keep acquiring skills and competencies and create your own set of skill stack. Increase your diversity quotient by being open to new ideas, thought processes, networking, and learning about your larger ecosystem. To support your long term career plans, It’s imperative to develop and grow your professional network both within and outside your current organisation. Have mentors, coaches with whom you can work on grooming and honing your skills. They can help you become a better version of yourself. Take some time off to pause and reflect and most importantly, learn to lead from within.

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