Johannes Viholainen

Access to Market a Priority for Pharmas

Wed, 09/05/2018 - 10:09

Shrinking federal healthcare budgets are making the Mexican pharmaceutical sector more competitive, which in turn requires increasingly prepared professionals. A complex situation with access to public healthcare market has increased the quest for experienced access experts. Also, several roles that have been considered as single-function focused, such as regulatory and medical positions, are today increasingly collaborating with other company divisions and becoming more and more attached to core business, says Johannes Viholainen, Partner at Jobplex.

Jobplex is a division of DHR International, which was founded in 1996 and uses a wide variety of services to find talent for emerging leader positions. The company specializes in several sectors, including technology, finances, education and healthcare. This last sector comprises pharma and life sciences, which according to Viholainen “are of the utmost importance for Jobplex. Globally, life sciences is one of the top practices for Jobplex.” Jobplex searches the world for the best person for the position through close collaboration with its partners in the Americas, Europe and Asia. “This allows us to take a team approach to every position and gives us access to more experienced consultants. We do not operate as franchises; we share the same database and work together on all projects.”

The company has had an excellent reception in Mexico, explains Viholainen. “We have seen significant demand for specialists in access, commercial, and finance mainly for senior manager and director positions,” he says. The reason, Viholainen adds, is the budget cuts directed at healthcare services. These cuts make competition to sell to the public sector, Mexico’s largest buyer, tougher than ever.

As budgets shrink, companies find it increasingly difficult to access the public sector, so they become creative in their market approach. “Companies are now looking for innovative strategies. They are bringing their business unit leaders to spearhead their access to market division.” These professionals bring new strategies and better knowledge to create innovative medium and long-term plans that secure market access today as well as in the future.

“The industry has not been that open to welcome talent from other sectors,” continues Viholainen. Nonetheless, the pharmaceutical industry has been progressively welcoming external talent and even has been looking for individuals from non-healthcare focused industries in order to diversify its talent mix and pool of expertise. “Previously, job divisions were clear and targeted to a specific area. Now, all these functions have to be integrated, with teams that incorporate experts in all necessary topics, and all of them must work together for the same goal. Current professionals might be experts in the production and application of the products they work with but they often lack the business acumen to successfully bring them to market.”

Pharmaceutical companies are fully aware of the lack of talent, so they are internally training their future directors. “A clear example of the transition from a business division to the access division can be seen in a few Big Pharma companies, but this strategy is becoming increasingly common among other companies,” says Viholainen. The sector could also benefit from a joint approach between academia and the industry. “Recent medical graduates are more interested in working with patients and hospitals but the life sciences industry could benefit from their knowledge too. Universities would do well to explain the broad range of possibilities their degree offers them. However, so far a relationship between pharmaceuticals and schools has not been fully developed to allow for this exchange of information.”

Mexico is the second-largest market in Latin America. As a result, businesses prefer to place experienced executives with a successful track record to the key roles in their local affiliates. “During 2016, we estimated that approximately 30 percent of general managers at multinational pharmaceuticals based in Mexico where born in the country. "

While finding adequate and qualified talent might be difficult, Viholainen is confident that Jobplex’s broad experience will allow the company to successfully find professionals “Jobplex sees potential for growth in Mexico as we have a unique set of capabilities brought about by the company’s background with our top executive brand, DHR International.”