David Mercier, , Founder & CEO: “Gafa will soon be our clients”
Read the original article in French and the English translation right below:
Even in sectors that are highly regulated, the recruitment industry is evolving quickly. David Mercier, CEO of the firm Strammer, relies on a variety of expertise and an EMEA-wide network to support healthcare industrials, biotech companies and medical device manufacturers. He gives us his analysis of his clients’ new needs and the answers he provides.
Décideurs. What services does Strammer offer its clients today?
David Mercier. Recruitment accounts for 60% of our business, exclusively in healthcare. The coaching and training of the executive committee members accounts for 30%, and the strategic council for 10%. This latest activity is growing at a rapid pace for all our clients, large and small, and is based on the design of marketing plans or the optimal use of innovative tools such as Salesforce. Our experts have years of experience on these subjects and can support our clients towards an accelerated development of their activities. In addition, Strammer is considering increasing the digitisation of recruitments to save time and quality. Filtering skills is now possible, especially through social networks, but it is still difficult to assess the true leadership of an individual without meeting them. The innovations we are currently developing could soon solve this problem.
Who is your client base?
We work for three main types of healthcare companies: pharmaceutical companies, biotech companies and medical device manufacturers. Worldwide, 52,000 companies are active in these markets and we have a lot to do to support their various development projects. A balanced management of human resources and change management are essential for the growth of these entities. Later, we may be able to work with our client’s clients, that is, healthcare facilities. Constituting a relevant ecosystem seems to be part of the logic expected by healthcare companies.
What substantive trends are emerging in the professional world of pharmacists you support?
Faced with the difficulties of pharmacies, especially in rural areas, pharmacists are gradually moving towards the industry. Real careers are opening up to these scientific experts in this moving environment. With our multitude of customers, we have a clear vision of the market’s best practices. Most entrepreneurs develop new molecules or concepts by launching their biotechs, while others focus on improving the regulatory activities of big pharmaceutical companies. Beyond these initial observations, the distribution of drugs will soon undergo a revolution. For the withdrawal of OTC drugs, robotic pharmacies will certainly see the light of day and pharmacies could disappear in favour of the sale of drugs online. In the same vein, the Gafa will soon be our clients. They are becoming more involved in the lives of their customers, wanting to sell them connected healthcare solutions and medical equipment. This is all part of the same rhetoric.
How are the companies reorganising themselves internally, while their subcontracting activities are progressing in R&D?
Large laboratories are almost no longer developing R&D projects in-house. They are now leaving this activity to start-ups and biotech companies. Some companies like Medtronic or J&J are investing in nurseries to better identify new products that may complement their offering. Often, these collaborations end with the promising new startup being bought out by the bigger company already in place. Our real role in this context is to support biotech companies and start-ups from a human point of view. In addition to the strategic relevance of the project and the financial capacity, it is essential for these companies to be able to rely on excellent in-house skills to develop their business. Staffing the board of directors is thus decisive to gather complementary profiles. For the last 10 years, we have also been investing directly in certain start-ups with Angel Santé to help them in their development. By focusing on these young companies, we are showing more established manufacturers that we are supporting their future acquisition targets. Finally, there is a social role for HR consulting firms like Strammer. When great concepts are developed, our marketing and distribution interventions help projects that are still fragile to grow and the company as a whole can benefit.
In terms of production and marketing development, what are the new needs of your clients?
The optimisation of production also often involves outsourcing, but the zero defect policy, which is essential in this highly regulated environment, limits risk taking in this area. New issues are more about product marketing. Manufacturers now want to address their customers directly, those who will be treated. New professions are being created in this context, particularly around digitisation issues. Marketing, surfing on the new opportunities offered by the digital, must reinvent itself. The traditional operations where the laboratories communicate with the doctors are not the future of this profession. Manufacturers are now looking for the best ways to reach the general population. The patient develops a power of influence, even a decision-making power, concerning the treatment that they will use. Many trades are emerging, and if the number of salesmen decreases, that of marketing and digital experts is progressing fast.
How are you organised to support your customers with these different aspects?
We work on several facets: individual coaching, staffing and strategic and marketing plans to accelerate the growth of biotech companies and start-ups in the sector. One of the things that sets Strammer apart is that we have several in-house experts to meet these well-identified needs. It is not the same people who will take care of the reorganisation of R&D or personal coaching. The specialisation of our consultants is a source of excellence.
In terms of talent acquisition, what value do you bring to human resources departments who are sometimes tempted to internalise these activities?
We have noticed this mode of internalisation of talent acquisition activities. Why? This phenomenon is related to professional social networks, like LinkedIn. Access to candidates seems easier than ever. If the candidate is so available, why use the services of an outside firm? Admittedly, if a company wants to copy and paste and filter the users of these networks by trade before coming into contact with them, then internalisation is a good idea. However, when some groups are fed up with the “consanguinity” of the candidates they meet, it can get complicated. Beyond the examination of profiles present in direct competitors, we are able to look for new profiles in related sectors. We focus on skills and advise on the approach strategy of the candidates. Rather than focusing on a diabetes expert, we can look for experts in large account management or market access, not necessarily with that much experience in healthcare. A toy industry professional who is used to negotiating with large purchasing firms could be the best candidate for the position. The audacity and expertise of Strammer’s experts can make a difference. On the contrary, internally, human resources departments are more cautious when offering this type of profile. With our multitude of clients, we have a clear vision of the market’s best practices. We complement our clients.
How do you support companies with ambitious projects, but who suffer from their lack of notoriety to attract the best candidates?
If our clients’ brands are not known, we intervene to sell the project to the relevant candidates. The candidates’ trust in Strammer can help new brands that are not known yet. Like the big names in the sector, these companies will have to attract new skills and new profiles, especially among the Millennials. How? In the world of health, 7.1 million jobs will be destroyed and as many will be created, but with other skills expected. It is essential to study the organisational and managerial preferences of young graduates in order to attract them more easily. We educate our clients in this way so that they do not miss out on the skills they need for their future development.
How do you nurture your relationships with market candidates and how do you make sure your databases are up to date?
The candidate is treated at Strammer as a customer and we are always at their service. Establishing many partnerships in the same universe is in our direct interest to cover our ecosystem as well as possible. We have been following some candidates for ten, fifteen, even twenty years and they trust us to support them in their major career changes. Our approach, which is not conceived without values of ethics, diversity and non-discrimination, is seductive. Respecting the different aspects of the candidate is very important to us. Our added value is based on our file of 250,000 qualified candidates. Responsible for 700 recruitment missions each year, Strammer strengthens its attractiveness and is always receiving more resumes.
You run many coaching projects and leadership programs for your clients. How do these sessions work and what results can your clients expect?
Companies realise that they are evolving in a changing world. It is now impossible to remain static or not to seek to improve one’s skills. Our decision is to support the best managers and executives to build them up. These already successful profiles deserve to be well advised to continue climbing the ladder. Underperforming teams do not gather the relevant skills, and coaching will not be the right solution… When we work with a management team, we make them think about a goal. By building special programs, we offer them the opportunity to interact to solve a concrete and unprecedented problem for them in order to subsequently submit behavioural suggestions and judge their evolution over time. The debrief is an opportunity to reapply the original scenario, for example in an airplane cockpit, to the business world. Collective progress often involves individual adjustments and we are here to identify the needs of a group of already talented professionals.
Strammer has a network of ten offices throughout Europe. Can the mobility of life science professionals develop on a continental scale?
We are indeed established throughout Europe. This positioning meets a specific objective: the support of our clients who adopt market logic at the EMEA scale (Europe, Middle East and Africa). To strengthen our regional footprint, we will also open an office in Dubai in late 2018. France is only one brick of the whole. In our recruitment and acquisition talent market, it is vital to be able to act beyond our home borders. The professional mobility of our candidates then appears as a fortunate consequence, but it is not at the origin of our multinational deployment.
Interview by Thomas Bastin (@ThBastin)