Beyond "Tech Talent": New Leadership in Pharma's Digital Age


PharmExec | December 5, 2019

The PharmExec article, "Beyond "Tech Talent": New Leadership in Pharma's Digital Age," was written by Russell Reynolds Associates Consultants Wolfgang Bauriedel and Maneesh Dube on the strategies pharma companies are implementing as they go digital. The article is excerpted below.

In pharma, digital is increasingly seen as a strategic differentiator and business enabler. But who, exactly, is pulling the digital strings within pharma companies, and where is talent coming from?

In 2019 we met with digital and technology leaders at 10 of the largest global pharma companies to understand the talent, leadership, and regional strategies behind the efforts to advance their organizations’ digital capabilities.

From “technologist” to “game changer”
Starting with the “who," it is clear that digital leaders have disruption in their DNA. In pharma, these leaders have become more than technology specialists, and this is clear based on the emergence of three leadership archetypes that span the range from a digital focus on one side and a technology and engineering focus on the other:
  • Chief Digital Officers in pharma companies are driving demand and leading in the areas of customer acquisition, conversion, experience, and retention.
  • Chief Information/Technology Officers have at the top of their agendas cloudification and automation as well as integration as it relates to front- and back-end technology and legacy and new platforms.
  • Chief Digital and Technology Officers represent a hybrid of the domains described above, bringing to bear their “commercial DNA” and building bridges between the pharma organization’s technology and commercial functions.
Despite the diversity of mandates, leaders within each of these archetypes must also possess key “game-changing” qualities:

Visionary: Where previously a top-notch technologist or IT professional would have fit the bill, today’s pharma digital leader must also be a visionary with an informed and bold perspective on the future.

Commercially astute: The next generation of digital leaders in Pharma must be able to translate digital innovation into revenue and shareholder value.

Change agent: Pharma's new digital leader must be capable of leveraging the excitement of change and transforming culture and mindset, all the while managing unpredictability and successfully ushering the organization on its path forward.

To read the full article, click here.

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Beyond "Tech Talent": New Leadership in Pharma's Digital Age