View from ProcureCon Pharma 2018 - Day Two

Paul Vincent was part of the ProcureCon Pharma day two panel on the partnership between HR and Procurement. He reflects on the key questions raised and the issues he thinks are central to the future success of this relationship, and for the future of life sciences talent.

March 15, 2018

If you read my short LinkedIn piece on the relationship between HR and Procurement, you will know this is a subject that has the potential to send me ‘ever so slightly batty'. I am therefore, very pleased to report that the panel discussions at ProcureCon Pharma yesterday avoided the ‘why’ of this important relationship and instead concentrated on the ‘how', ‘where’ and ‘when’ of making this partnership a success.

I was delighted to be part of a panel which included some notable procurement leaders in the pharma industry. Jyothi Hartley, HR Global Category Leader from Smith and Nephew and Matteo Stefani, Head of Non-Commercial Procurement and European Purchasing at UCB were my fellow panellists. Our discussion was moderated by the equally insightful Paresh Jani, CPO at Norgine. This mix of experience and expertise created a friendly and thoughtful debate which threw up more than a few interesting talking points.

For me there were three themes in particular that I thought would be useful to share with a broader audience.

What is the right blend of perm vs contingent talent?

There is no magic equation underpinning the buy, build or borrow decision. The right blend of talent is individual to each organisation and has to be rooted in how they believe their work best gets done. Organisations must constantly adapt and evolve to remain in sync with their customer and competitive landscapes and HR and Procurement professionals have a huge opportunity to contribute (and even lead) the workforce part of this debate rather than merely execute on the outcome.

We can attract the best talent but our problem is that it leaves too quickly!

Organisations can feel quite territorial about their permanent workforce and when talented people decide to leave it is easy to interpret this decision negatively. There are many instances where people leave a company because it is not right for them. Equally individuals leave organisations because they want to try something new. I myself had that experience back in 2009 when I left a successful corporate career to try consulting. If a talented person decides to leave a flourishing company then I think it is time to be more open about the idea that they can be proactively encouraged to ‘bounce back’. Organisations should proactively maintain contact with their alumni talent because they may be perfectly happy to return at a later date.

Is the life sciences sector more or less progressive than other sectors?

The life sciences industry is intrinsically innovative. Driven by research and development, it understands the power of progress and breaking new ground. This approach needs to be translated into talent strategy at every level. Top talent, after all, drives the breakthroughs which power both the industry as a whole and individual success. But there is still work to be done when it comes to applying an innovative mind-set to talent acquisition and management.  Another perfect example of how HR and Procurement, working in tandem, can and should inspire their organisations to think differently.

Day two of ProcureCon Pharma 2018 provided some interesting insights and fantastic opportunities for connecting with thought leaders and colleagues across the industry. I look forward to continuing the dialogue with my fellow panellists and with everyone who attended our session.

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