Career Paths and Title Inflation in the Pharmaceutical Industry

14 August 2019

Tonushree Mondal / Pharmaceutical Executive

A lot is happening in the world of Pharmaceuticals these days. Just as big pharma witnessed a lot of consolidation in the mid-late 2000s, the last few years have been the age of small- to mid-sized biotech/ pharmaceutical companies as they scale up for rapid growth. This is leading to some interesting challenges for them on the business and people front. The three realities facing the pharmaceutical industry today are:

Reality 1:

The sector is scaling rapidly and there are hyper-inflated talent markets where demand exceeds supply

The small and mid-sized pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of some fascinating growth and change. Those with a strong pipeline, situated in the hot talent markets of Cambridge, MA, Dublin, Ireland, or New Jersey amongst others are seeing some exciting growth opportunities and similar talent challenges. While some might be on the verge of a rich pipeline, others are witnessing a move to commercialization all of which calls for scaling of talent processes at a speed that has not been seen before.

Reality 2:

Employees want career progression and are not shy about moving companies for better pay and titles

The employee who is comfortably located in these markets with the right skills and experience is suddenly seeing the market open up with opportunities that present greater career choices along with significant powers to negotiate their way in. What they want is rapid career progression with the right pay that maintains their brand worth both from an internal and external equity standpoint. More importantly, no one is feeling shy in making demands on the titles they would like to see on their business cards.

Reality 3

Employers often succumb to pressures of attraction and retention in ways that might be causing bigger issues to organization design and employee morale

What the reality of the market and the employee needs means for the employer is a daily challenge on the attraction and retention front. Several companies find themselves with organizational bulges at the VP and director levels as skilled talent refuses to settle for anything less joining their company. This sets off a wave of internal angst and inequity as current employees feel disenfranchised if they feel the person being brought in negotiated their way to a higher title.

As organizations deal with these challenges, there are several steps or missteps that can propel them to a business advantage or disadvantage very quickly. Below are a few Do's and Don'ts as you look at this problem and try to solve it for your organization.



This is a dynamic sector which will only see more talent opportunities and challenges in the years to come. Setting the HR processes and approaches right from the beginning will be the key to success, not just for the organization itself but the industry as a whole.




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