Health is on our minds more than ever, and healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are facing new challenges in a rapidly developing landscape. For graduates of the Healthcare and Life Sciences disciplines, this is providing lots of new and diverse career opportunities in the UAE.
The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent roll out of vaccines is undoubtedly one of modern medicine’s greatest achievements. But it also shows how healthcare operators need to improve and adapt their technology capabilities in order to meet the demand from a growing and aging population. The digitalization of research, manufacturing, customer liaison and service provision is key in order to meet future challenges. And while this is changing the profile of traditional roles in the sector, it is opening up new career paths for job seekers. “The set-up of R&D within the pharm sector is changing a lot,” confirms Zeineb Daghfous, Senior Consultant at Michael Page Healthcare and Life Sciences recruitment. “It is moving from one entity within big pharma to a network of very small, decentralized companies; tech companies, scientific institutes and so on that are using shared technology platforms in the search for new drugs.”
E-commerce is changing the healthcare industries exponentially, and sales and marketing positions provide attractive entry-level opportunities for new graduates. Tele-medicine, tele-consultations, healthcare apps, and selling medical supplies online are just a few of the innovations that require technology skills and knowledge. Sales and marketing talent, from sales reps to customer service and distribution managers is a key component in this competitive market.
Also attracting huge investment is a fast growing discipline within the Marketing and Sales space known as ‘Market Access’. “Market Access is a long and complex process that enables pharma and biotech companies to sell their products in multiple countries,” explains Daghfous. “Market access technicians deal with pricing, regulations, approvals and the study of side effects. So there is a lot of negotiation with governments, insurance companies and varied players.” Think of the difficulties and implications of setting price structures for the COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, and you get an idea of how important Market Access is for the pharma sector, and why it is becoming an area of specialization.
Manufacturing is the traditional pathway into Life Science careers, and while work opportunities in the drug manufacturing sector in the UAE have been limited until now, there are signs this is changing: For example, the recent agreement between the Chinese company Sinopharm and Julphar Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries to produce the Sinopharm Covid 19 vaccine.
Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities require a large number of competencies, from lab technicians to production line managers to data analysts. Daghfous warns that the highly regulated environments in manufacturing sites may make them not suitable for everyone. “Pharmaceutical manufacturing sites can be challenging, with the wearing of PPE gear and so on” she says, adding that anyone who is looking to get into pharma manufacturing must display a good working knowledge of product and the latest developments in the product development.
Keeping abreast of the fast moving health industry is vital for job seekers affirms Andy Georgeson, Senior Manager of Michael Page Healthcare and Life Sciences Recruitment Division. “Stay up to date on market trends, acquisitions and clinical trials,” he advises. “You can use this information to stand out to HR managers and recruiters.”
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