Health, Business and Society Public Talk No. 5 on “Developing a Talent Pool for the Life Sciences Industry” was successfully held on 14th October at ESSEC Asia-Pacific. The keynote speaker for the public talk was Prof. Steven Myint, Senior Fellow at A*STAR. Mr. Salman Bokhari, Managing Director of Sidrapex Pte Ltd, and Ms. Laura Thomas, Executive Talent Acquisition Leader – APAC at GlaxoSmithKline, were the panelists for the session. The public talk was moderated by Dr. Allen Lai, Director of the Institute of Health Economics and Management Asia-Pacific.
Dr. Allen Lai delivering the opening address
During the keynote address, Prof. Myint spoke about the components of a successful industry, and discussed the issue of R&D spending. Elaborating on success stories in the Biotech industry, Prof. Myint gave his opinion on what is currently missing in the industry today. Prof. Myint shared his vision of the ‘perfect’ CEO, and spoke about the importance of training the CEO, sharing possible solutions to training such as executive training and mentoring programmes.
Prof. Steven Myint, Senior Fellow at A*STAR
The next speaker was Ms. Laura Thomas, Executive Talent Acquisition Leader – APAC at GlaxoSmithKline, who spoke about talent development from her perspective in a multinational corporation. To Ms. Thomas, it is important to be willing to be globally mobile as part of a global organisation. During the session, Ms. Thomas shared several career tips with participants of the public talk, emphasizing that employers are often interested in understanding individuals’ contributions to their projects and their achievements instead of a general view of what was done in their team. She also encouraged participants looking to take up managerial roles to take the initiative in getting managerial responsibilities in their current positions to better prepare themselves for the future.
Ms. Laura Thomas, Executive Talent Acquisition Leader – APAC at GlaxoSmithKline
The last speaker for the session was Mr. Salman Bokhari, Managing Director of Sidrapex, who discussed the topic of “Successfully managing talent in the life sciences industry in Asia.” It was an interactive session where Mr. Bokhari first outlined the major opportunities and risks in Asia, and spoke about the market access challenges in Pharma, Medtech and Biotech. However, Mr. Bokhari emphasized that even if companies manage to overcome the challenges to market access, it is of key importance to get the correct talent and manage the talents well in order to succeed. Mr. Bokhari then posed a question of “What do you look for when you recruit in Asia?” to the audience, and shared his views on what to look for in Talent in Asia.
Mr. Salman Bokhari, Managing Director of Sidrapex
During the panel discussion, panelists discussed the pharma industry in Singapore, as well as the issue of disruptive and incremental innovation. Topics such as managing loyalty in the Asia-Pacific region were also discussed at length. As a conclusion, the three speakers shared their key takeaways for the session. Ms. Thomas emphasized that they key issue is talent retention, and it is very much a top-down approach. Mr. Bokhari encouraged the audience to work on leaving a mark in their companies and to work to make an impact to be recognized. Lastly, Prof. Myint added that it is important to make employees feel valued.
With representatives from both the public and private sectors, the public talk provided an open platform for discussion about talent retention as well as the challenges faced in the industry.