Life Sciences

Our commitment to building strong relationships drives an approach that combines best-in-class executive search practices with exceptional levels of service to everyone we interact with. We truly care, because when we get things right, we play a key role in improving the outcomes of patients around the globe.

As a trusted advisor and strategic partner to the organisations that we serve, we possess a deep understanding of talent needs throughout every part of a business’ life cycle, working across all functional areas and phases of the drug development process.

Medical concept. Structure of medical organization. Capsule with molecule. 3d

With decades of collective experience, we provide an exceptional level of insight, advice and unrivalled access to industry leaders. Our experienced team combines relevant academic qualifications, industry experience and strong search credentials enabling a highly consultative yet time efficient turnaround of projects. Well respected corporate capabilities, brand identity and the fact that we continuously strive for excellence in a culture that encourages independent thought means that our opinions are valued and sought out.

Integrity and the belief that we are our client’s ambassadors lead us to ensure that candidates are treated with the highest levels of service, discretion and respect at all times.

We serve a wide variety of organisations from pre-revenue start-up to large, global, public companies, with a significant number of our mandates being international.

Our clients include companies within:

• Medical Devices, Diagnostics and Digital Health
• Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology
• Contract Research or Development and Manufacturing Organisations (CRO/CDMO)

Case Study 1 – Top 10 Global Pharmaceutical Company, R&D Function

The Brief
In a move intended to drive scientific innovation through translational medicine, we were engaged in a global search to identify scientific leaders with experience in progressing compounds from preclinical into clinical development, through to the end of Phase 2. The person would be responsible for optimising clinical development plans so that compounds can be transitioned efficiently to Phase 3 and beyond. The objective of the role was to deliver clinical work which establishes the platform of evidence in humans, providing the basis of the link to human disease. It is viewed as business-critical, highly visible and influential, with accountabilities that are crucial to the delivery of company and therapeutic area objectives.

Actions & Outcomes
In addition to mapping Pharma and Biotech organisations in the given therapeutic area, we identified renowned Scientists in Academia. This strategy recommendation fundamentally changed our client’s view on the background of who they should appoint. We began to concentrate our efforts in finding world-leading, extensively published and cited Professors, with strong links and collaborations with the industry. What made this search particularly difficult was that the target candidates also needed to possess demonstrable leadership and commercial skills. The cultural differences between academic and commercial organisations are pronounced, and as such, leadership capability is often not as well developed within the academic community. We had to be particularly mindful of this aspect when interviewing prospective candidates. We were commended on the shortlist and, due to the quality of candidates presented, two appointments were ultimately made.

Case Study 2 – High Growth Medical Diagnostics Company, Commercial Function

The Brief
During a prodigious period of growth, owing to a market-leading product, our client began to experience performance issues in EMEA. A newly appointed EMEA President sought to reinvigorate the sales teams. After removing the incumbent, we embarked on a search for a replacement with a revised remit. The organisation predominantly made sales of very expensive capital equipment and there was a push to grow consumable product sales. The business sold to academic and industrial customers, including the pharmaceutical industry and operated through direct channels in the more sophisticated Western markets, and through distributors in the growth territories.

Actions & Outcomes
The initial brief was to find Sales leaders with multi-geographic experience (ideally EMEA), who had devised and implemented sales strategies for capital and consumable equipment within academic and commercial organisations. We constructed a list of target organisations which possessed those characteristics, typically medical devices and diagnostics, but also Pharma organisations with diagnostics business units and scientific equipment suppliers. We also mapped the wider therapeutic area for tangential businesses. The search presented challenges in that, whilst the organisation possessed market-leading technology, it was constantly rumoured to be an acquisition target. Individuals with the experience required were typically found in much larger, more complex organisations, where routes to progress a career within EMEA were obvious and multiple. As part of the mapping within the therapeutic area, we discovered a less well known company that developed and sold molecular modelling software, solutions and services. The area Sales leader had very similar dynamics in terms of client base, albeit with a very different product type. There was overlap in that they had service contracts with customers and the proprietary software was essentially “capital” equipment. The candidate had previously worked in a Medical Devices business where he led sales of both capital and consumable equipment. Whilst not an immediately obvious profile, his personality and overall experience gave us confidence that he would be a good fit for the organisation, when overlooking the fact that his latest role was not ideal. In a mix of several candidates who possessed the ideal experience profile, he was ultimately offered the position. Our examination of organisations beyond the obvious places yielded a slightly surprising, but nonetheless great result.

Case Study 3 – Highly Acquisitive Global Life Sciences Company, Finance Function

The Brief
A shift in how products in Life Sciences are developed led to a period of growth and consolidation in our client’s niche. The business had re-financed with a plan to grow through organic and acquisition strategies, and exit through a probable London Stock Market listing when critical mass was achieved. A series of significant acquisitions left the Finance department inadequate for the needs of this much enlarged, truly global business. The number two role in Finance was to be upskilled and the reporting lines changed, meaning there were confidentialities surrounding the search. This person would be the successor to the Group CFO who planned to transition out after the exit event, and so the CFO needed someone who could own the finance function from an internal perspective, whilst being groomed to take on the external stakeholder responsibilities.

Actions & Outcomes
Incorporating the education and finance qualification requirements stipulated by the CFO, we began to map the Group Finance functions of FTSE150 multinational companies, as instructed. Although the role and business were well received, our early findings revealed some major challenges in engaging with those possessing the right breadth and depth of experience, who were motivated to take a number 2 position in the finance function. The location also presented problems. We changed the search strategy to focus on smaller cap, multinational, UK-listed companies, whilst beginning to examine multinational companies who had relatively recently undergone an exit event (LBO etc.). In doing so, we uncovered a candidate pool that generally had the requisite depth and breadth of experience, and the desire to consider this number 2 position. Within that, our search uncovered someone who had previously worked in the Group Reporting function of a FTSE100, and who had recently taken a multinational business through all the IPO preparation work, when at the last minute, the company was sold to Private Equity. To add to the success, this person had a perfect academic record and an advanced degree in a life sciences subject. Our client was delighted with the suite of candidates presented and how our creativity found this one particular, stellar person.

Case Study 4 – Top 10 Pharma Company, Human Resources Function

The Brief
Following a repositioning of strategy, a substantial restructuring programme had left the business with a smaller, flatter, yet more focused organisational structure. As the company’s fortunes transformed and it began to grow again, the Human Resources function needed to better support the organisation. The HR leadership team had identified two band new, business critical roles within the Global HR function. Whilst their own talent was high performing, no one had the experience to quickly build out the role and responsibilities. Equally, since the organisation was in growth, they wanted to use the opportunity to bring in talent from outside the organisation and potentially, a different industry. Our client initially mandated us to map the potential candidate market in order to better understand the talent pool. We were to focus on sophisticated businesses with global operations that had undergone a recent transformation. On completion, this list would be discussed and a search strategy created from it.

Actions & Outcomes
Both roles were highly business-facing, providing support to other functional areas and operating in a large, global, sophisticated HR function. First, we started by creating a target list of global companies that included; competitors, engineering and science-led organisations, heavily industrialised businesses and companies that operated in a regulatory framework. Next, we searched globally, mapping the relevant areas of the HR function to identify those with the depth and breadth of experience for inclusion in our map. On presenting our findings, the stated preference was for someone outside of Life Sciences, but to include anyone we felt was top-tier. We evaluated a range of candidates, ultimately presenting a diverse shortlist with those from outside the industry to bring a genuine degree of difference and richness of thinking to the senior HR team. As a result of the initial work and the successful appointments, we went on to deliver 5 further searches for the business, with those placed from culturally diverse backgrounds, including Chinese, Swedish, Slovakian, British and Danish.

Case Study 5 – Top 3 Global Pharmaceutical Company, Legal Function

The Brief
Due to the incumbent moving to a specialist legal role in one of the overseas operations, our client was looking to appoint a Legal Director to their UK and Ireland (UK&I) business. This person would sit on the Pharma Executive Committee and UK&I Leadership team, reporting to the UK&I General Manager with a dotted line reporting to the global lead of the Legal function. The remit of the role was broad, with responsibility for the Pharma business and for all of the UK divisions including Company Secretarial duties. They needed someone who could provide strategic direction and thought leadership in all aspects of the law relevant to sites and divisions operating within UK&I. The position also involved leadership in the context of legal processes, setting priorities, assuring quality and developing standards, as well as the usual team management aspects.

Actions & Outcomes
Given the time scales of the incumbent’s move overseas, there were considerable time pressures. Not wishing to compromise the quality of the search execution, we suggested an interim management solution to afford us the appropriate time to properly research the broad and diverse market of senior in-house Counsel and Partners in private practice, whilst not increasing pressure in an understaffed department. During our early research, we found an individual who was immediately available and started in an interim capacity, whilst also included in the evaluation for the permanent role. We mapped the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors, searching for those who were commercial and ambitious lawyers with strong leadership and influencing skills. They needed to help the business capitalise on a strong pipeline whilst also addressing internal issues, sharing best practice and working across the UK divisions, in an increasingly competitive sector. We presented a suite of leading candidates which included the interim Head of Legal, and were commended on the shortlist. The interim was appointed in the role, no doubt benefitting from the insights gained seeing the business first-hand in the role.

Contact us

If you would like to hear more about our experience and how we may be able to help your business, please contact Angela Hickmore for an initial confidential discussion.

Angela Hickmore
Managing Partner
Norman Broadbent Group