Connection between Talent Acquisition and Business Strategy
- Satish Varma, Managing Director, Fermenta Biotech Limited

Talent acquisition and management has a strategic significance in pharmaceutical and biotech companies. In this article, the author looks at key trends that are shaping current talent acquisition practices in pharmaceutical industry as well as methods to secure talented professionals and then keep them productive and committed once they are on board.

These famous lines by Jack Welch have aptly summarized the impact which a sound talent acquisition programme will have on the successful execution of an organization's business strategy. In today's scenario pharmaceutical companies are faced with a multitude of issues with varying magnitude, amongst them the top concerns which emerge prominently are, a growing need for enabling innovation, an unending list of expanding priorities and to top it up an 'achieve more with less' economic climate. Over the past decade we feel that there is a great deal of change witnessed amongst the workforce. If the organization's current process of talent acquisition does notmodify or keep pace with these changes, companies will be at a high risk of not only loosing qualified candidates but also land up in a situation where growth and performance will be compromised. For once there are no two views on the fact that alignment to business goals should be kept on priority rather than the age old approach of filling in of vacancies. One does feel and that too specifically in the pharma domain that despite a growing pool of available talent, finding the key talent that matches the organizational requirements still remains a challenge even for the most seasoned human resource managers.

Factually speaking, most of us are spending more time than ever on social networks, and many of the growing pharmaceutical companies, including ours, are learning to capitalize on this trend. This was initiated by consciously joining online conversations to reach potential hires via a plethora of social networking platforms. Recruiters today are connected with top talent through social media and one does get to profile a prospective candidate in a rather accurate manner using this powerful tool. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and lately even Instagram have helped HR professionals understand the candidate in a much better manner and that too in a cost-effective way.

One of the key differentiators, we feel one possesses over competition is the structured approach through which an organization coaches, develops and leverages its existing talent. Coaching forms an integral part of the holistic talent management strategy we believe in. In case of Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry, talent optimization plays a pivotal role in laying the foundation of a strong organization with an even stronger set of value systems. We understand the need of coaching our key talents and taking them to the desired level of operational and execution excellence. The key talents and the leadership team in turn percolate these values and ethics imbibed in them to their teams and informal groups. Usage of sophisticated tools like the DISC analysis, psychometric profiling; strength finders have been used efficiently in our coaching programmes. Our effective coaching techniques helps in developing our leaders to creates opportunities for others to follow, it helps them to remain focused and accountable to the organizational goals and in turn create a well-entrenched sense of belonging and ownership within the organization.

Talking about leadership in terms of an organizational asset, from Gallup's research it was evident that 73 per cent of employees are engaged when leadership focuses on strengths. In fact, Dr. Donald Clifton widely known as the father of strengths psychology had once quoted "A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths - and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describe all leaders". Identifying the right strength of an individual, linking it to his or her role and the organizational goal at large and consistently investing in it to create talent has always been a core philosophy we believe in. This is followed across departments and hierarchies and has yielded good results for us.

Over the last decade, we as a country have successfully transformed our self into a leading innovation hub and much of this growth is attributed to the growth of high technology firms, needless to mention the fact that this is the space which will always be a nest for the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry. Some of the innovative pharmaceutical and HR talent acquisition programmes do encompass a homogeneous blend of time tested and trusted methodologies viz. Employer Branding, Recruitment Process Outsourcing, Forums & Conferences and Collaboration with Universities. As an organization one regularly uses these channels. This is often topped with employee referral programmes in which employees themselves refer a candidate who not only technically fits the job but also culturally fits in the organization. These methodologies garnished with efficient usage of social media and robust referral checks definitely is the key towards a successful talent acquisition strategy.

Another important challenge which pharmaceutical companies face is the ability to create strong leaders and nurture talent effectively. This completely trickles down to a strong leadership development programme which encompasses the following initiatives. Firstly, development of a robust leadership competency model focusing on organization values and core competencies. Secondly creation of a firm executive development process involving coaching and mentoring techniques and finally implementing an unbiased standard succession planning process.

It is no more a hidden fact that talent will continue to be the most importance competitive advantage an organization will ever possess and this can be reiterated by the famous lines of Ray Kroc. Founder, MacDonald's.

If we are going to go anywhere, weve got to have talent. And Im going to put my money in talent.