The global life sciences industry is estimated to be worth $1.5 trillion by 2022. The industry is known for a high degree of innovation. And Ireland is seen as a country with impeccable life sciences credentials. Many Irish companies in this space operate on a world stage.
The industry is also a big recruiter. Even during 2020, as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the hiring plans for many other industries, life sciences companies are still hiring.
What might surprise you is that the life sciences industry hires for a wide range of roles.
Naturally, product testing and development, stem cell research, neuroscience, cell biology and other scientific-led roles dominate. However, there is also a demand for graduates and professionals to fill roles in product management, business development, technical support, marketing and sales roles.
Lab-based roles in life sciences
Many life sciences companies develop their own products. As a result, they have a big need for development and testing to ensure that health and safety protocols are being met.
The roles recruited for this work include:
● Researcher and senior researcher
● Scientists and senior scientists
● Project leaders
● Senior lab management roles
While these roles are clearly science-based, they feed into many commercial elements too.
Keeping track of a project’s status means regular meetings and touchpoints with a number of stakeholders, including finance, business development and marketing teams. Communication, project management and time management skills are vital in these roles.
Technical support roles for post product sales
A whole host of roles exist within the life sciences industry to support customers once they have bought a product.
Many of these roles require candidates to have significant laboratory experience and a specialist research background.
Again, communication skills are key here. Many technical support roles are handling customer enquiries and representing the company at industry events. Understanding scientific processes and being able to problem-solve quickly are essential attributes companies are looking for when hiring for technical support staff.
Marketing roles in life sciences companies
The life sciences industry also employs a large number of business roles.
Marketers are often in demand within companies that create life sciences products and services. Marketing bioscience products can mean coordinating project plans with researchers, raising a brand’s reputation, working on creating product awareness, educating the market and ensuring compliance in multiple locations. The responsibilities are varied. Individuals who combine a commercial marketing qualification along with a research background will have the skillset life sciences companies want.
Product management roles
Product managers are often at the very centre of the new product development. They also have a central responsibility for products that are already available to the market.
Their roles include everything from sourcing new products and ideas for development to the full commercialisation (business development, costing, marketing and sales) for product lines.
Roles in this category can include:
● Product Manager
● Head of Product Management
● New Product Line Manager
Product managers also need to develop and maintain a keen awareness of the competitors in the same field as their company. They’ll need to provide regular reports and updates of wider global trends, and ensure they’re building a pipeline of products that keep up with these trends. Running focus groups and surveys, and gathering data and feedback, are all regular parts of a product management role.
Business development roles
Business development roles within life sciences companies can be varied. However, generally, professionals within these roles are responsible for building and maintaining B2B relationships with key accounts.
These accounts can be biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical brands, universities or private/public sector laboratories.
Business development executives are tasked with providing product support services and dedicated feedback to their accounts. This encompasses regular liaison with other teams, such as technical support and laboratory facilities, to address customer needs.
An additional key responsibility for those within business development roles is to provide feedback to the other commercial teams within the business. These roles often have growth and sales targets to meet, and their targets are directly related to overall company key performance indicators.
Business analyst roles
Business analysts work with company data to mine for insights that can be used to create successful products. This data can include:
● Customer purchasing data
● Customer demographics
● Sales performance
● Global trends
● External survey data
The skills business analysts need to be successful in their roles include excellent IT skills. Coding languages, such as SQL, will be used frequently to store, retrieve and manipulate data.
Business analysts are also responsible for leading the company in terms of the new data that needs to be gathered to make informed commercial decisions. Once this data is received, it needs to be analysed for its relevance and compiled into a report that highlights its insights for the rest of the company.
Many different teams within a life sciences company will rely on the work done by the business analysts in their companies. Therefore, highly competent verbal and written communication skills are also critical for professionals wanting these roles.
A variety of employment opportunities within life sciences
Life sciences is a big employer in Ireland, but not all of the roles this industry recruit for are science-based.
A large number of roles are more commercially focused.
That said, while it’s not always a prerequisite, having a life science background, be that a qualification or prior experience, is often an advantage when applying for a business role within a life sciences company.
On an encouraging note, the life sciences industry employs a number of trainee positions to help individuals who show promise gain the experience they need to build long-term careers.