Trump and Manufacturing Jobs

Posted in Articles, BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz, Career Advice

The big news today is that Donald Trump and Mike Pence negotiated a deal with United  Technologies (owner of the big air-conditioner company Carrier) to keep 1000 of the 2,000 Indiana-based jobs that were slated to be moved to Mexico.  Of course, the terms of the deal were not announced (and possibly will never be). That said, it is likely Trump promised Carrier management tax breaks and incentives and other perks to keep 50% of the announced jobs in the US (why not all of them?).

While Trump supporters may see this as fulfillment of a campaign promise made by the Donald, it is nothing more than a PR stunt to suggest that Trump is able to keep jobs in the US and not move jobs to lower cost manufacturing markets like Mexico, Vietnam, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and others. Notice that I did not mention China in the list of lower cost manufacturing destinations. That’s because, over the past 10 years, labor and manufacturing costs have skyrocketed in China and manufacturing there no longer makes fiscal or economic sense. Anyway, the Carrier story will be used to show that Trump unlike President Obama is able to stem or reverse the loss of US manufacturing jobs to foreign countries.

The reason for the post is twofold.  First,  most of the manufacturing jobs in the US have already been lost and they will not be coming back home anytime soon.This is because moving these jobs to lower cost markets has increased corporate profits and elevate public company stock prices. Nevertheless, it is important to note that over 200,000 US pharmaceutical manufacturing, marketing and sales jobs have been lost since 2001 because of outsourcing to lower cost foreign markets. Despite bleeding job losses, neither the Bush nor Obama administrations directly intervened to keep these jobs in the US. Both Bush and Obama likely believed that the US government ought not meddle with or tell private companies how to run their businesses.

Second, despite all of the hoopla, Trump/Pence were only able to save 50% of the 2000 jobs slated to be moved to Mexico. And, putting things in perspective saving 1,0000 “blue collar” jobs is peanuts as compared with the lost of over 200,000 pharmaceutical and life sciences jobs.  While saving 1,000 Indiana jobs may seem like a “win” for Trump supporters, I think the whole deal was really designed to distract said supports from other campaign promises that Trump has failed to live up to. For example, his decision to not investigate and possibly jail Hillary Clinton, his appointment of Washington lobbyists and Wall Street insiders to cabinet posts and advisory positions (whatever happened to “cleaning out the swamp?) and considering Mitt Romney for Secretary of State.

Finally, in my opinion, Trump’s personal involvement in negotiations with private companies sets a dangerous precedent because the Executive branch ought not be able to directly manipulate or negotiate private business transactions. To that point, I believe that oversight of US corporate transactions and business deals are best left to regulatory agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department rather than President of the US.  That said, President-elect Trump ought to be focused on running the US government; not negotiating business deals with private US corporations.

Until next time,

Good luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

 

Tis the Season…to Lose Your Job

Posted in BioJobBuzz

It is that time of year again….the layoff season.  Coincidentally, the end of the fiscal year frequently overlaps with the beginning of the holiday season.  This means that profits and losses for the past year have already been tabulated and new budgets have been crafted for the new fiscal year.  Not surprisingly, this is when management has the numbers and metrics it needs to determine upcoming staffing levels and whether or not layoffs are necessary.

To wit, yesterday Bristol Myers Squibb announced that it was laying off 75 workers in its R&D division to realign research priorities and cut costs. Also, Ariad said yesterday that it was reducing its US workforce  following its decision to temporarily suspend the marketing and commercial distribution of Iclusig® (ponatinib) in the U.S. Earlier this week, Novartis indicated that it would slash 500 jobs as it realigns its research efforts and attempts to control costs in both Europe and the US. And Shire announced that is was cutting 180 jobs in a UK facility. Finally, a little over a month ago, Merck announced that it would slash 8,500 R&D and marketing/sales positions worldwide.

Admittedly, getting laid off at the beginning or during the holiday season is a horrible thing. That said, since things are slowing down anyway, it gives persons who received pink slips sufficient time to beef up their resumes/CV and stash their year end bonuses into their IRA or checking account.

Tis the season….

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

Even Generics Companies Are Not Immune: Teva to Slash 5,000 Jobs!

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

Despite the fact that over 80% of the drugs sold in the US are now generic, Teva, the world’s largest generic drug manufacture (based in Israel) announced yesterday that it will eliminate 5,000 jobs (about 10% of its global workforce) by the end of 2014. According to the company, this action is part of Teva’s worldwide restructuring plan which was introduced in December 2012.

While Teva is generally known as a generic drug manufacturer, it does generate a substantial part of its sales revenue for a branded injectable multiple sclerosis drug called Copaxone lost patent protection.  According to a post at the Pharmalot Blog

The move comes less than three months after a US court invalidated the 2015 patent on its Copaxone multiple sclerosis drug. The decision means patent protection for the drug, which generates about half of company earnings and dominates the MS market, may prevent rivals from selling lower-cost versions of the injectable drug only until next year.

In recent years, Teva has made major investments into biosimilar drugs and presently has two approved product –( Lonquex (XM22 lipegfilgrastim) and Tevagrastim (filigrastim)–on the market.  At present, while Congress passed legislation to allow biosimilars to be approved and sold in the US, the Food and Drug Administration has been extremely slow in translating the legislation into a functional and understandable legal regulatory pathway for approval of biosimilars.

Look for job cuts in the pharmaceutical industry (Lilly ?) in the next few months as we are entering prime layoff announcement season.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

 

The Other Shoe Has Finally Dropped: Merck to Eliminate 8,500 Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

After Merck rehired Roger Perlmutter to replace Peter Kim as head of R&D (he left Merck about 10 years ago to lead Amgen R&D), it was pretty obvious that reorganization and job cuts were likely. However, it was not clear, until today, how extensive the cuts would be and what exactly what would be changing at Merck.

Today, Merck revealed plans to eliminate about 8,500 jobs–mainly in R&D, marketing and sales–in an attempt to save $2.5 billion by the end of 2015. In addition to the job cuts, R&D focus will be shifting and Merck’s headquarters will be relocated again (it was moved from Whitehouse Station to Summit several years ago) to Kenilworth, NJ (the former headquarters of Schering Plough which Merck purchased for roughly $41 billion in 2009)

According to a post at the Pharmalot Blog, while it is not exactly clear where the job cuts will take place, most industry insiders expect that the majority of them will likely take place in NJ.  The shift in R&D focus is intended to emphasize oncology, diabetes, acute hospital care, vaccines, oncology and a greater effort in biologics. Further the company intends to either license or discontinue research on “selected late-stage compounds” and reduce its investment in “platform technologies.”

Once one of America’s preeminent pharmaceutical companies, Merck has stumbled over the past decade (with the Vioxx scandal and the Vytorin and Zetia controversies) and it continues to struggle with regulatory approval of some of its new medicines. Perlmutter was hired to transform R&D and bring his expertise in oncology to bear at Merck.

Time will tell.

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!

Jobseekers: When Creating a LinkedIn Profile and Twitter Account May Simply Not Be Enough!

Posted in BioJobBuzz

The advent of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter have spawned a plethora of articles, blog posts and even white papers on how important these communication networks may be for jobseekers. In fact, many recruiters and career development counselors that I have talked with believe (and publicly espouse) that finding a job without using these platforms will be extremely difficult. While I believe that social media—when used correctly—can be a powerful job hunting tool, many job seekers believe that simply creating a LinkedIn profile and Twitter account will magically result in gainful employment.  Sadly, these job seekers are mistaken and they are setting themselves up for a “rude awakening.”

The key word in the phrase “social media” is social. Being social means interacting and actively communicating with others in the networks that you have built on LinkedIn or Twitter; not creating a profile, remaining silent and then expecting prospective employers to find you!  Networking, whether online or in real life (IRL) is a social not a solitary endeavor!

The main point of a LinkedIn profile or Twitter account is provide users with a mechanism to help them to “stand out” from the rest of the competition and ultimately convince prospective employers that they, not their colleagues, are the right persons to hire into their organizations. People who create a LinkedIn profile or a Twitter account and never use them are kidding themselves if they think that their behavior will result in job leads or possible interviews. To wit, there are currently over 200 million registered LinkedIn users; expecting prospective employers or to spend their time searching LinkedIn databases to identify inactive users as possible job candidates is sheer lunacy in today’s fiercely competitive global job market.  It is tantamount to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack; who has the time to do that?

I spend a fair amount of time on LinkedIn (because it is a strictly professional network) looking for writing assignments and other business opportunities.  I frequently come upon job posts in the many groups that I belong to.  Invariably I see individual group members interested who are interested in the posted jobs publicly leave messages that read (and I am not kidding): “I am interested in the job opportunity. Please contact me.”

I am shocked that the persons who leave these messages actually believe that most  recruiters or hiring manager are actually going  to look at their LinkedIn profiles to see whether or not they may be qualified for the advertised job!  For the record, the appropriate response to a job posting on LinkedIn is to send a private message to the recruiter or hiring manager and inquire about the job specifics. This ought to provide enough information for a job seeker and recruiter/hiring manager to determine whether or not to proceed further.

The point that I am trying to make is in today’s fiercely competitive job market, jobseekers must be aggressive, interactive and tenacious when networking both online and in real life.  Simply creating profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and exclusively applying for online jobs is likely not going to be enough to land a job these days.  As most recruiters and job counselors will tell you “Finding a new job is really a full time job that requires the same amount of time and commitment” And, like it or not, they’re right!

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

 

 

Life Sciences Job Market Outlook: Is the Future Brighter?

Posted in BioEducation, BioJobBuzz

According to a report published in Nature last week, 72% of drug makers surveyed (respondents included company executives and recruiters) intend to boost their research capacity in the next 12 months by hiring scientists, creating partnerships or improving infrastructure.  Further, additional survey results suggested that jobs will grow by 30% among US medical scientists, biochemists and biophysicists by 2020.  While I have not read the entire report, it seems to me that asking company executives (responsible for company growth and maintaining stock share price) and recruiters (who make a living finding difficult to find employees for drug companies) may not provide survey readers with  accurate information that one could use for trend analysis.

Nevertheless, despite the rosy proclamations made in the report, there are a few caveats. First, the 30% increase in hiring by 2020 includes mainly medical scientists (clinical personnel), biophysicists (how many biophysicists are there anyway) and biochemists (are there any really left?).  What about all the molecular biologists, bioinformatics and genomics scientists, physiologists, pharmacologists etc etc?

Second and perhaps most revealing, survey respondents noted that the types of scientists that they want to hire are those who 1) “can develop and manage external partnerships” (translation: business development, marketing, brand managers etc); 2) “know about regulatory science”  and 3) “can manage and analyze big data sets and outcomes research.”  I don’t know about you, but I did not learn any of the above mentioned desirable skills while working on my PhD degree.

Finally, one of the report authors opined that early career scientists looking for employment opportunities need to “think about the entire value chain  that leads to the development of a drug or medical device.”  Really?  First, what is a value chain and second who is going to teach graduate students and postdocs how drugs and devices are developed when nobody at their institution knows how to develop drugs and devices since they work in academia and not industry?  Interestingly, I know many pharmaceutical and biotechnology company employees who don’t really understand the complete drug/device development process because things are done in silos at most drug and devices companies.

The point that I am trying to make, is that nobody can predict what the job market for life sciences professionals will be in 2020.  The best advice that I can give is to develop a career plan, remain flexible and have at least two or three contingency in place!

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!

 

 

Its Official: The US Doesn’t Need Any More PhD Life Scientists

Posted in BioJobBuzz, Uncategorized

I have been blogging about the glut of life sciences PhDs in the US for the past five years. Sadly, not many people paid much attention to my claims despite repeated discussions with graduate students, postdocs and even tenured faculty members.  Recently, however, there has been a spate of lay media articles shedding light on this very recent phenomenon (yeah right).

One that caught my attention was written by Jordan Weissmann an associate editor at The Atlantic who also writes for the Washington Post and the National Law Journal.  Although the title “The Ph.D Bust:America’s Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts” was not particularly inspiring, it does contain some very interesting data (provided by the National Science Foundation); and as we scientists know the data are incontrovertible (unless fudged or applied to certain esoteric statistical analyses).

Here are the highlights (unfortunately, lowlights for many of you).

First, the big picture view: employment opportunities for all American PhDs including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs.

The pattern reaching back to 2001 is clear — fewer jobs, more unemployment, and more persons doing post-doc work — especially in the sciences.

Second, let’s take a look at employment rates for life scientists (including biologists, chemists, biomedical engineers etc) upon completion of their graduate training.

Since 1991 the number of PhD scientists who choose to engage in postdoctoral training has hovered around 45% (it just seems like the number should be higher).  Interestingly, the number of PhD scientists who were able to secure jobs at the completion of their training (without doing a postdoc) has dropped from a high of almost 30% in 2006 to roughly 19% in 2011. However, the most telling statistic is that the number of PhD scientists who are unable to find employment after receiving their degrees has skyrocketed from 27% in 2006 to almost 40% in 2011.  These data clearly indicate that there were many fewer job opportunities for PhD life scientists over the past five years.  Yep, I started talking about the life sciences PhD glut five years ago.

Finally, Georgia State University Professor Paula Stephan has broken down NSF data on biology Ph.D.’s five or six years after receiving their degrees.

As many of you may have heard, less than 1 in 6 are in tenure track academic positions. What is must troubling, however, is how low the overall employment rates were for most PhD trained scientists as far back as 2006 (before the recession began and US pharmaceutical companies began laying off hundreds of thousands of employees!)

The Bottom Line: There is a glut of PhD-trained life scientists (duh) and we do not need to mint anymore PhDs: there simply aren’t enough jobs. And supply side economics suggests that the only way to make PhD life scientists more valuable to prospective employers is to reduce their overall number.  Sorry guys, the data do not lie!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!

Fixing the Disconnect Between Academia and Industrial Life Science Jobs

Posted in BioJobBuzz, Uncategorized

Dave Jensen’s article in a recent edition of Science Careers entitled “Tooling Up: The Big Disconnect” aptly and cogently pointed out why it has become increasingly difficult for academically-trained PhD life scientists to find jobs in the life sciences industry.

Dave is spot on in his assertion that most life science hiring managers engage in what he terms “pinpoint hiring”— a practice in which employees are hired based on their extant skill sets rather than long term scientific potential and possible contribution to the success of a company.  In the good old days before globalization, companies would frequently hire the “best and the brightest”, train them and take the long view that well trained employees will ultimately benefit and add value to their organization.  Unfortunately, those days are long gone. Today’s mantra is “what can you do for me today because there may not be a tomorrow.”

As Dave rightly points out, graduate students and postdocs are simply not being trained to meet the needs and demands of most life science companies.  An essential ingredient that is missing from current training paradigms is a fundamental understanding of the life sciences industry and how it works. Put simply, students who lack a basic understanding of the pharmaceutical/biotechnology drug development processes will find it increasingly difficult to land an industrial job; regardless of the number of Cell, Science and Nature papers or where you may have received your graduate or postdoctoral training.

In his article, Dave asserts that determining (as early a possible) that an industrial career is right for you may be your ticket to success. Unfortunately, while conducting informational interviews and landing a competitive unpaid company internship may be helpful, only small numbers of graduate students and postdocs have the flexibility or access to these activities.  More importantly, most academic researchers engage in basic rather than applied research (which is what life sciences companies are looking for). Consequently, while many students view industry jobs as possible employment opportunities, there simply may not be enough PI or mentors who can help to acquire the applied skill sets demanded by most life sciences hiring managers.

By now, many of you may be thinking: okay we know about the problems how about some practical solutions. So, here goes:

First, there are many online biotechnology courses and certificate-earning biotechnology/pharmaceutical/regulatory affairs course at local community colleges that graduate students and postdocs can take. Yes, I know that you are extremely busy and working 80 hours plus in the lab, but it is your career and nobody else can do if for you. These courses will provide graduate students and postdoc interested in industrial careers with a basic understanding of how the life sciences industry functions. Also, these courses can provide a rich lexicon of industrial jargon—when correctly used in a face-to-face job interview — can make a difference between a job offer or not.

Second, graduate students and postdocs can work together to organize career development symposium, seminars and workshops to obtain a better understanding of the requisite skill sets and training required to improve their competitiveness for industrial jobs.

Third, there are a number of PhD programs that now offer joint degrees in science, business and other disciplines. Choosing to enroll in these programs rather than traditional graduate life sciences programs may be an option for students who already know that an industrial rather than an academic career path is right for them.

Finally, organize and then talk college administration to demand that changes be made to existing graduate training paradigms to improve job preparedness. To that end, it would not be unreasonable to request that alternate career training courses (regulatory affairs, medical writing, project management etc be) be offered to all graduate students and postdocs who may be interested. Also, it may be appropriate (depending upon geographical location of an institution) to request that formal industry-focused company internships are established to allow interested and qualified graduate students and postdocs to participate. And, last, request that all faculty members be required to engage in career development counseling to help them to better understand the job market realities that their graduate students and post docs are currently facing.  While this may sound like an odd request, it is important to remember that tenured professors are guaranteed a “job for life.” Consequently, most of them are not particularly concerned about whether or not their PhD students or postdocs find gainful employment after they leave their laboratories. Sadly, many of them (and perhaps rightly so) believe that finding a job is not their problem but yours!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

Pharma And Biotech Got Smaller in 2012

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Fierce Biotech recently published its Top 10 Pharma Layoffs of 2012 list. A quick perusal of the list (see below) finds many of the usual suspects on it with some new faces appearing including Lundbeck, Merck KGA and Dendreon (which is imploding because of poor sales of its cancer treatment Provenge).

  1. AstraZeneca
  2. Takeda
  3. Novartis
  4. Roche
  5. Sanofi
  6. MerckKGA
  7. Abbott Laboratories
  8. Dendreon
  9. Lundbeck
  10. Pfizer

Although some companies including Roche and Novartis continue to add employees in emerging markets like China, others such as Pfizer are pulling the plug on R&D centers in other parts of Asia like Singapore.

While the days of massive layoffs appear to be over at most pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, substantial numbers of employees continue to lose their jobs in less well publicized layoffs. According to a compilation of recent publications, roughly 22,300 pharmaceutical and biotechnology employees lost their jobs in 2012. The most recent shakeup was the one that took place at Astra Zeneca about 3 weeks ago that resulted in the lost of 7300 employees worldwide.
roughly 22,300 pharmaceutical and biotechnology employees lost their jobs in 2012!!!!!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!
 

Alcon Announces Plans to Expand Its Workforce In Texas

Posted in BioJobBuzz

Despite a stalling economy, there are signs that some American companies are hiring and helping to improve local economies. A good of example of this is Alcon Laboratories located in Fort Worth, Texas. The company, which specializes in vision products, today announced that it leased 87,000 sq. feet of office space to house 400 new employees that it is moving into the Fort Worth area.

The company immediately needed the space to accommodate employees relocating from Atlanta and to house new hires as the company plans to expand existing facilities in south Fort Worth. Alcon was acquired this past April by Novartis, which operate the Atlanta-based CIBA Vision and Novartis Ophthalmic Units which are being consolidated into Alcon’s existing Forth Worth operations. While some of Novartis’ Atlanta employees lost their jobs as a result of the Alcon acquisition, many of them are relocating to new jobs at the Forth Worth facility.

Alcon notified Fort Worth city officials that it plans on expanding its current workforce of 3,200 to about 4,000 and spends millions of dollars to expand existing facilities over the next few years. Ironically, while most big US pharmaceutical companies are slashing domestic jobs and investing in emerging markets like China and India, Novartis, a Swiss company, is investing in America! Go figure!!!!!!!

Until next time…

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!