From the Editor: Rx for the New Year: Optimism and Enlightened Self-Interest

Jan. 15, 2008
You’re already applying operational excellence at work. Are you applying it to your own career planning and development?

2008 has begun on a sour note. We hear the word “recession” more frequently in the news. In December alone, over 6,000 drug industry positions were eliminated, according to the recruitment firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

You all know the competitive pressures that the drug industry faces. Our cover story, based on an extensive report, provides insights into why the situation has changed so drastically since the high-flying 1980s. It also examines what steps you can take for yourself.

If you’re a typical reader, you have spent years acquiring an excellent education, well-rounded experience and a battery of varied skills. You may have the technical chops, but do you have the mindset required to ensure continued career success? Have you taken the time to think about yourself and where you want to be? Doubtless, most of you have. But if you’ve been so focused on work and family and day-to-day firefighting instead of your career, I humbly offer the following questions to help:

  • Are you are focused on yesterday’s targets? If you have been pursuing a plum job in senior or uppermid management, you may be chasing a phantom. Analysts from RegentAtlantic Capital LLC predict such managers will soon be a “lost generation” in pharma, with roughly 50,000 eliminated in the next few years.
  • Are you prepared, financially and personally, for at least one downsizing? Most professionals, especially those 40 and up, will be laid off at least once during their careers. For many, the typical time frame between jobs is 10 months. It’s both ugly and unfair. But denial is not the answer. Are you ready, psychologically? Have you discussed the possibility with your spouse? Will you have enough financial security to survive?
  • Are you afraid to “schmooze?” Some people appear to have sprung from the womb with an elevator speech for every occasion. Others face a room full of strangers with dread. The new reality, though, is that networking is critical to connecting with those who can help you advance. If you’ve felt that knowledge and excellence speak for themselves and that small talk is best left to small minds, think again.
  • Are you keeping up with the bigger industry picture? Your job and other responsibilities easily take up 18 of each 24 hours. But do you still keep up with news and events outside of your company and immediate business? Do you regularly do research to glean intelligence on your employer’s competitors, evaluate new market players (including generics companies), and contract research and manufacturing firms? Researching potential future employers, in depth, is likely to decrease the length of time between employment stints.
  • Do you think like a CEO? After all, you are the CEO of your own career. There’s nothing wrong with taking the lead in suggesting and driving improvement projects (Lean Six Sigma, OEE or whatever they might be). On the job, can you connect the dots between corporate macro objectives and the day-to-day KPIs? Off the job, can you see how your job skills fit the broader needs of a fast-changing industry?
  • Are you taking the time to “have a life?” Creativity can only spring from those who make the time for “soul nurturing” activities after work. This year, we hope to bring you some inspiring examples of colleagues who are, each month on our web site.
  • How do you play on a global stage? Some of you are already multicultural and multilingual. Many of you work for multinational companies, but how often do you interface with your foreign colleagues? Can you speak another language? Are you familiar with the customs and etiquette of other countries? Your career may depend on just this knowledge.

We are living, if not in comfortable, at least in interesting times. Make the most of them. We promise to bring you new digital resources each month to help you do this.

About the Author

Agnes Shanley | Editor in Chief