Updated on 31 May 2012
Until mid-2011, Herman Schwietert was general manager of Greater China for Invida, a leading commercialization services company in Asia Pacific. Prior to Invida, Herman worked for 17 years at Organon as a general manager, marketing manager and international product manager.
For many in-house experts, there are good opportunities in contract organizations. As big pharma increasingly retreats from specialist areas, the new breed of outsourcing firms have become logical places to develop and grow their career.
"In the past, contract organizations suffered from a perception of being less well financed, offering less support and having more supply complications," says Mr John Barnes. He is a general manager at Catalent Pharma Solutions, a leading provider of advanced drug delivery technologies and solutions in the UK. He previously worked at GSK.
"Increasing pressure on pharma to improve manufacturing efficiency or find partners to solve product development challenges has boosted the perception and value of the contracting firms. "The level of trust in contract organizations is increasing - and the cost of not moving R&D to outsourced partner is also increasing as the challenges of managing high fixed costs in the supply chains start to hit home," elaborates Mr Barnes. Ex-employees of ‘traditional' pharma companies can bring valuable skills to contract research organizations.
"A big advantage of coming from pharma is that you are used to looking at the whole picture. This knowledge is needed in refining and improving systems and processes," says Mr Schwietert. "Industry contacts and referrals are also key to contract organizations, and executives from pharma tend to be more networked and have a better overall view of the industry."
For Mr Barnes, the experience of drug development and lifecycle management that ex-pharma employees have is vital. "Process knowledge is probably the most valuable area that I have brought over, he says, adding, "for instance, how to construct processes that are more manageable and that people can work to. In smaller organizations, there is less room for mistakes, so it is important to get things right the first time itself."