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“Euromobility” – The Trend for Life Sciences Workf

by Maurice Herring, Partner, PiR Group Posted on: 23 Jul 02


Increasingly it seems that locational flexibility may be an essential point to mention on the CV for a career-minded corporate animal in the Life Sciences sector.
Clients taking part in a recent PiR survey on the European recruitment market were using words like “geographical flexibility”, “career mobility” and one even coined the phrase “Euromobile” to describe their ideal worker of the future. What does this mean then for professionals looking for new opportunities and for businesses searching for talent in Europe? Increasingly it seems that locational flexibility may be an essential point to mention on the CV for a career-minded corporate animal in the Life Sciences sector. There is no getting away from the fact that companies are looking for a new breed of worker who will move across geographical boundaries – especially in Europe. I confess that this trend was new to me; as a search and selection specialist operating in many parts of Europe I had noted, like many others, clusters of companies in areas like Oxbridge, Stockholm, German bio-regions, and parts of France and Denmark. But I underestimated the potential employer demand for a mobile workforce and the part that geographical flexibility will play across these locations in the recruitment of many senior roles going forward. In essence it seems that the Euromobile model would work like this…. Boris Svensson is a Swedish Scientist with impeccable academics, terrific track record and recently recruited as a Principal Scientist for one of the big biotech players in Germany. The company will nurture him, develop him further, invest in keeping him updated in his field – so long as he makes a commitment to move to their R&D centre in Oxford in 2003 to bring on junior talent in that location and to transfer knowledge and skills to others. And in the words of an employer sold on the benefits of workforce mobility: “A two-year post for a senior manager to develop a local operation is important to our business but a six month transfer for the personal development of our younger employees is increasingly just as important.” This is almost a return to the paternalistic global company of the latter decades of the 20th century that expected someone to move from head office to regional sub offices around the world during a twenty year career with a company. And for the employer, there are definite advantages: retaining one’s knowledge base within the organisation, reducing the costs of recruitment and enjoying the advantages of having continuity of people. The employee who is prepared to be loyal to one global employer then is much in demand. Indeed, in a survey by a leading management consultancy1 published this year the two main reasons employers gave for firms recruiting workers who were prepared to be mobile across Europe were to obtain appropriate skills and to help build the business internationally. Staff retention and cost saving were deemed least important reasons. The demographics of an ageing population also means that many businesses agree that having a mobile workforce will be one way of dealing with this tightening of the labour market. But will expert resources be co-operative and “up sticks” in this way? The report referred to earlier also found that there is a low level of labour mobility, especially compared with the US and to compound the issue, as individuals’ skills and qualifications increase, their loyalty towards their employer will decline. It would appear there are significant complexities when recruiting for senior positions in Europe. On the one hand, employers want a flexible, mobile and loyal workforce to develop international businesses and, on the other, the employee with in-demand skills and knowledge has a tendency not to want to move country and be organisationally promiscuous! In the quest to cut through this dilemma, and find a way of assisting clients identify sought after resources at Board Level - PiR has developed a comprehensive European database covering 13 countries and thousands of organisations. It can also be used to search for Directors and Senior Managers in: Discovery, Research & Development, Manufacturing, Quality, Business Development/Licensing, Clinical & Medical, Regulatory Affairs, Commercial and Human Resources. We are delighted to be able to offer this new database to clients looking for difficult-to-find resources, especially of the Euromobile kind. It enables us to search for key companies and posts throughout Europe and therefore target customer needs more precisely than ever. We have found, like many of our competitors, that talent is concentrated in various hot spots throughout Europe and hence, clusters are key in tracking down talent for these vibrant and often pioneering sectors. This more detailed analysis of companies and roles across Europe includes organisations from the Pharmaceutical, Biopharmaceutical and Biotechnology sectors as well as Science Parks and Academic Institutes. And contrary to the belief that there has been a ‘brain drain’ to the United States or elsewhere, PiR are convinced that this new information confirms what a European Commission reported earlier on in the year2 - that the number of dedicated biotechnology companies in Europe now exceeds those in the United States (1570 in Europe as compared to 1273 in the US). This powerful database tool is proving especially valuable when one notes that, increasingly, journal and newspaper advertising is just not working as well as it used to. This underlines the value of combining tried and trusted search methods in conjunction with database i.e. networking at seminars and over the phone. So, in summary, although finding mobile talent is difficult - it’s not insurmountable. With a winning combination of PiR’s European database alongside our successful search techniques applying persistence, tenacity, lateral thinking and thoroughness of process, rare Euromobile resources can be found. 1PricewaterhouseCoopers Survey: Managing mobility matters – A European Perspective, 2002 2Commission of the European Communities Report: Life Sciences and Biotechnology – A Strategy for Europe, 2002 Notes to Readers PiR Group is a leading executive search and selection company – identifying leaders and experts for international pharmaceutical, biotechnology and biopharmaceutical organisations. They specialise in identifying people who help to shape and grow companies. They manage European projects, when necessary utilising their associates and affiliates. Through this PiR has built up a clear picture of life science and academic clusters in the key European centres. This knowledge ensures clients have access to industry experts who may well be working outside the UK. This process is also being applied to mapping North America. PiR has developed successful long-standing partnerships with a range of world-class companies since their launch in 1990. Their location near Cambridge, England, finds them at the centre of one of the fastest growing biotechnology regions in Europe, renowned for producing and attracting entrepreneurial talent and research based companies. Key services are:
  • Search & Selection across Europe
  • Interim Management and Consultancy services
  • Mentoring & Business Support Services
  • Specialist Salary Survey For more information please contact Maurice Herring on 01480 493344 or, if dialling from outside the UK: +44 (0) 1480 493344. He can also be emailed at Latest news and updates can also be found at
  • Maurice Herring

    Last updated on: 27/08/2010 11:40:18

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