It’s the Holiday Season: Time for More Job Cuts in Pharma

Posted in BioBusiness, BioJobBuzz

While the holiday season (beginning on Thanksgiving) is supposed to be joyous, it is usually the time of year that many life sciences and other large corporations announce job cuts. As expected, two companies, Mylan and Lilly announced today that they will be cutting the size of their work forces and laying off employee.

Mylan, whose CEO was forced to appear before Congressional committees because of the company’s egregiously high price it was charging for EpiPens, announced that it may lay off of as many as 3,500 workers. The reason for the layoffs was to “reduce redundancy” that resulted from Mylan’s $5.3 billion acquisition of Abbott Laboratories generic drug business, the $7 billion it paid to purchase the Swedish drugmaker Meda and the $1.0 billion for several topical skin medications from Renaissance Holdings. The layoffs will purportedly impact less than 10% of Mylan’s global workforce and help to cut costs and refocus operations at the generic drug manufacturer.

Likewise, troubled pharmaceutical manufacturer Lilly, whose CEO abruptly retired earlier this year announced that it was trimming its US pharmaceutical sales force. The announced cuts were related to the recent Phase 3 failure of the company’s Alzheimer’s project solanezumab. A company spokesperson did not disclose the number of sales representative who would lose their jobs.

Finally, this past September, the Danish company  Novo Nordisk, a world leader in the diabetes market, announced it would layoff 1,000 employees worldwide to cut costs and focus it efforts on developing “truly innovative” diabetes products.  Meanwhile, behind the scenes, speculation suggests that the layoffs are in response to payer pressures that are being brought to bear in the US, the company’s largest market.  Many of the cuts are expected in R&D where innovation has been lacking according to company executives.

Although these jobs cuts are taking place, the good news is that these workforce reductions are smaller than those announced in holiday seasons past!

Until next time

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

 

Life Scientists:Looking for a Job? Consider the Cannabis Industry

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice

According to a recent article, the 2013 to 2014 US market for legal Cannabis (medical and recreational) grew 74% from $1.3 billion to $2.7 billion. Industry analysts predict that the legal marijuana industry is (and will continue to be) the fastest-growing industry in the US over the next 5 years with annual revenues topping $11 billion by 2020.  And, as the industry grows so will employment opportunities. At present, salaries associated with various job functions in the Cannabis industry range from $50,000 to $90,000. As many businesses that support the Cannabis industry continue to grow, the competition for qualified employed will intensify and salaries will concomitantly rise. Currently,, there aren’t enough trained job candidates to fill the many job openings at Cannabis companies. I am sure that many of you who hold graduate degrees in the life sciences are wondering why I am pitching jobs in the Cannabis industry.

First, traditional jobs for PhD-trained life scientist are getting scarcer and the election of Donald Trump suggests that this trend will not be reversed anytime soon.

Second, consider that growing and cultivating marijuana and extracting cannabinoids (the pharmaceutically active molecules in Cannabis buds) require a background in laboratory methods, chemistry, biology and in some cases plant science. For those of you who may not know, the medical Cannabis market is focusing almost exclusively on cannabis extracts and vaporization of these extracts (rather than smoking) is the preferred delivery methods. This suggests that those of you with backgrounds in biomedical engineering and medical devices  can leverage your expertise and skills to obtain jobs in the delivery side of the cannabis industry.  

Third, the expansive growth and sheer economic size of the Cannabis industry suggests that other jobs that require a life science background are likely to emerge. These include quality control/assurance jobs for strain identification, diagnostic jobs to determine THC levels/intoxication, molecular biology and bioinformatic jobs to continue to explore and unlike therapeutically relevant molecules from the Cannabis genome and synthetic biology jobs to increase cannabinoid yields and reduce production costs. Finally, there is currently a dearth of qualified job candidates with scientific backgrounds to fill entry level grow and extraction jobs in the Cannabis industry.

At present, the industry is mainly dominated by long time Cannabis growers, people who use marijuana on a regular basis and some moxy business people/investors who see an an enormous upside for the Cannabis industry. Put simply, now is the time to get in on the ground floor of an industry that is exploding and will ultimately become a legal multibillion dollar a year industry. While I’m sure that neither you nor your parents/family envisioned a career in Cannabis, the jobs are there and ripe for the picking (pun intended).

Until next time…

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

Alternative Energy and Innovative Technologies: How Trump Might Be Able to Create New Jobs

Posted in BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

Trumps ideas around job creation center around saving jobs before they leave or possibly bringing back old manufacturing/ mining jobs to the US. We just witnessed how effective Trump was convincing the Carrier Corporation to not outsource jobs to Mexico or close factories in Indiana and move them south of the border. Further, many of the jobs that Trump talked about during his scorch-the-earth campaign (both figuratively and possibly literally), are obsolete because much of what humans did in these jobs is now automated and their participation is no longer required.  Put simply, Trump needs to think outside of his box (which will be extremely difficult but necessary) for him to fulfill one of his major campaign promises of creating new jobs for workers in the financially-devastated American heartland.

To that point, Ross Sorkin suggested a possible strategy in an editorial in today’s NY Times business section. In the opinion piece, Sorkin suggests that Trump model his job creation strategy divined by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, the electric car company; SolarCity, the solar power provider; and SpaceX, the rocket company..  According to Sorkin, Musk has nearly 35,000 new jobs (most of which are manufacturing jobs) in the past decade. This is an outstanding accomplishment for a single individual entrepreneur. However, instead of naming Musk to advise him on job creation, Trump decided that he was going to rely on the advice of people like Jamie Dimon, of JP Morgan Chase, Robert Iger of Disney and Mary Barra of General Motors all of whom benefitted from President Obama’s government bailout and are not exactly paragons of innovation. LIke Trump, these business leaders represent the old guard that want things to remain the same to help them maintain their power bases, corporate stock prices and large oversized CEO compensation packages (Musk takes $1 dollar a year in salary and has paid as much as $600 million in taxes annually).

Not surprisingly, Musk is a Democrat and despite creating tens of thousand of new American jobs, he is under assault and being vilified by conservative groups. This is because Musk believes in climate change. According to Sorkin:

…Conservative groups and individuals have taken to the internet with a litany of real and fake stories attacking Mr. Musk for the government subsidies Tesla receives, and for his vocal warnings on climate change.

Even worse, Sorkin reported:

Robert E. Murray, chief executive of Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately owned coal company, called Mr. Musk “a fraud” for accepting $2 billion in government subsidies for Tesla.

Yet despite this hateful and untrue assault by Trump supporters, Musk suggested to Sorkin that even though he did not support Trump, that he would be “happy to talk with him” about job creation and climate change.

If I were Mr. Musk, I would not hold my breath.

Until next time….

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

 

Career Advice: Why Social Media Can Make A Difference!

Posted in Articles, Career Advice, Social Media

Back in the old days, I scolded job candidates for having an active social media presence especially those persons who posted party pics or politically-charged comments on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc feeds.  However, the advent of fine-tuned privacy settings,Snapchat (where things go away without leaving much of a digital trace) and a broader understanding of the importance of social media for those entering job market or looking to transition to the next opportunity has changed the role that social media can affect a career.

While I can drone on about it here on my blog, I highly recommend an article that appeared this Sunday’s NY Times business section. The points that the author maker are valid and I recommend that new job candidates and experienced job seekers take a look at it.

Until next time…

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

The Truth About Trump and Manufacturing Jobs: Part 2

Posted in BioBusiness, Uncategorized

While Trump has been on a so-called victory tour to convince his supporters that he fulfilled (sort of) one campaign promise to keep jobs in America (middle America really), he set a couple of dangerous precedents.

First, every US CEO worth his/her salt will be calling Trump to negotiate or renegotiate deals for tax breaks, incentives and guarantees of government contracts to keep manufacturing jobs in America.  And ,while Trump/Pence saved some jobs for Carrier employees (around 1000) another 1100 are still moving to Mexico. Surprisingly, to keep less than 50% of Carrier’s low tech manufacturing jobs in Indiana, Pence, Indiana’s governor, had to guarantee Carrier an additional $7.0 million in tax breaks and incentives. Great deal for Carrier and those employees, but not such a great deal for other Indiana citizens who may have to pay more to pay for the tax shortfall.

Second, Trump has other things besides jobs to focus on; like foreign affairs, national security, legislation and other Presidential things that he so desperately wanted to do after becoming President.  Because of this, Trump does not have the time to intervene and negotiate with every US company that threatens to move jobs (manufacturing or otherwise) to lower cost labor markets. His intervention in the Carrier situation set a bad precedent and pretty much invited other companies to see what kind of deal that they can get to keep jobs in the US (kind of sounds like corporate blackmail to me).

Put simply, Trump engineered this deal and set out on his victory tour to placate his supporters in the heartland and also to draw attention away from his cabinet picks and campaign promises that he made and will never fulfill.

Trump needs to start thinking more presidentially and finally  understand that governments cannot be run like businesses.  There is more to running a government than making money.

Until next time,

Good Luck and Good Job Hunting

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!!!!!!

 

The State of the Job Market for Recent College Grads

Posted in Career Advice

The U.S economy has been steadily improving for college graduates since the Great Recession. Salaries appear to be rising and the demand for college-level skills is becoming increasingly competitive. These signs are good one for person who have graduated from college or who will be graduating this spring.

Donna Norton just recently published a blog post entitled “The Job Market for Recent Grads: 50+ Promising College Employment Statistics.   It is definitely worth a read for college graduates who are contemplating their next career choice or options.

Until next time….Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!!!

Preparing for Job Interviews

Posted in Articles, Career Advice

Much as been written about how to prepare for a job interview. I know that many of you are busy and don’t like to read long articles. To that point, the old adage: “one picture is worth a 1000 words” is especially apt for this post.  The following infographic came to me from Atiq Rehman of Acuity Training in the UK.

Until Next Time,
Good Luck and Good Job Hunting!!!!!!!!!

Struggling with Situational/Hypothetical Interview Questions? Check this out.

Posted in Articles, BioBusiness, Career Advice, Uncategorized

I typically do not recommend “how to” articles to job candidates unless I come across something that is novel and may be helpful to job seekers.  I found a FREE e-book on LinkedIn that may be useful for jobseekers who are not comfortable or may have trouble answering with behavioral or hypothetical questions during an interview.  

For those of you who may not know what I am talking about, a behavioral, situational or hypothetical question that a hiring manager may ask during a telephone or face-to-face job interview is something like “Tell me how you overcame adversity in your life” or “If you disagree with your supervisor on a work-related issue, how would you approach your supervisor with your concerns.”

While the job marketing appears to be tighten in the favor of job candidate and salaries are on the rise, questions such as the ones mentioned above, have become commonplace during job interviews. The goal of these questions is to determine how a job candidate thinks on his/her feet and whether or not you have the requisite problem solving skills required for a job offer.

Until next time….

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

My Story: Taking the Path Less Traveled

Posted in Career Advice

I had always liked science but by age 10, I had already decided that I wanted to be a veterinarian. However, after seeing the film Ben Hur at age 11—during which two of the main characters who have leprosy are miraculously cured—I fantasized what it might be like to be able to discover cures for infectious diseases. As corny as it may sound, the movie convinced me that my true calling in life wasn’t veterinary medicine but microbiology. Nevertheless, I attended Cornell University as a pre-veterinary medicine undergraduate with a dual major in animal science and microbiology. During my senior year at Cornell, Dr. Brooks Naylor, my food microbiology professor at the time, invited me to do a senior research project in his laboratory. After several weeks in the laboratory I was hooked and knew that graduate school and not veterinary medicine was in my future.

I entered graduate school in 1974 and did my PhD work in Bob Deibel’s laboratory in the Department of Bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying the pathogenesis of Salmonella gastroenteritis. Because Bob was Chairman of the Department and a food microbiology consultant, he wasn’t around much. This forced me to become self reliant and an independent investigator very early in my scientific career. Interestingly, when I started graduate school, my goal was to earn a PhD degree and teach microbiology at a small liberal arts college.  However, after three years at Wisconsin, I decided to eschew a career as a science educator in favor of becoming a tenure track faculty member at a prestigious research institution.

I received my PhD degree in 1981 and chose to do a postdoctoral fellowship with Stephen Morse in the Department of Microbiology at Oregon Health Sciences University where I investigated the pathogenesis of Neisseria gonorrhoeae the causative agent of gonorrhea. After two years in Stephen’s lab, I realized that the field of molecular biology had finally taken off and I needed to develop molecular biological skills to compete for my coveted tenure track faculty position. In 1984, I joined Howard Shuman’s laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York City where I studied the molecular pathogenesis of Legionella pneumophila, the causative agent of Legionnaires Disease.

In 1987, after spending three more years as a postdoctoral fellow, my newly acquired molecular biology training coupled with a respectable publication record helped me to land a tenure track faculty position in the Department of Microbiology at the University Of Miami School Of Medicine. I spent the next seven years feverishly doing laboratory research, teaching medical and graduate students, publishing papers and mainly writing grants to establish an independent research program on the role of lipopolysaccharide in the molecular pathogenesis of Legionella pneumophila. While I was a productive researcher, who regularly published and was recognized on several occasions for teaching excellence, I failed to consistently win grant support to run my laboratory. Consequently, in 1994, I was denied tenure and forced to leave academia—an emotionally devastating event that that ended a life-long dream of becoming a world class research scientist.

Luckily, at that time, the American biotechnology industry had finally hit its stride and I landed a job as a scientist at a New Jersey-based biotechnology company where I managed an antibacterial drug discovery program. My time in industry—which lasted only two years—provided me with a firm understanding of the business side of science and perhaps, more importantly, convinced me that industrial research wasn’t for me. This, coupled with a yearning desire to teach again, prompted me to successfully apply for a job as Chairperson of Biology at a local community college. While a good idea at the time, I quickly realized that while I still loved to teach, administration wasn’t my strong suit and I left the community college job after a year.

Unfortunately, by 1998, I had effectively exhausted most traditional career options for scientists with PhD degrees and I desperately needed a job—mainly because I had a wife and three young children to support. Fortunately, while working at the community college, I successfully helped several professional recruiters place new hires into jobs at biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. This prompted me to seriously consider professional recruiting as a career option and in early 1999 I landed a job as a recruiter at a local recruiting firm.  As a new hire I had to attend recruiter school for six weeks. Surprisingly, this training would prove to play a pivotal role in many subsequent decisions that ultimately helped to shape my career.

After three successful years as professional recruiter, an Australian biotechnology company recruited and hired me as a science and business consultant to help guide their antibacterial drug discovery program. The new job led to an almost four year stint as an independent management consultant advising private and publicly-traded biotechnology companies on business, scientific and financial matters.  Also during this time, I decided to indulge my own entrepreneurial fantasies and in 2001 I founded BioInsights Inc (www.bioinsights.com), a bioscience education and training company. In 2003, Abe Abuchowski and I founded Prolong Pharmaceuticals (www.prolongpharmaceuticals.com) a drug delivery company with two drugs in early stage clinical development. Unfortunately, the rigorous demands of running BioInsights and starting Prolong ultimately led to the demise of my consulting practice and by 2004 I was forced to consider another career move.

Luckily, in 2002, I had begun to write for several biotechnology industry trade publications. Although I wasn’t getting paid to write, it enabled me to hone and polish my writing skills. In late 2004, a medical communications expert who I knew suggested that I take a stab at medical writing. At the time, I didn’t know much about medical writing but I quickly learned that it pays well and medical writers are always in demand. I took her advice and landed my first medical writing job in 2005. Since then, I have worked at a variety of medical communications agencies and pharmaceutical companies preparing manuscripts, posters, slide presentations and other work. Currently, I am freelance science and medical writer, blogger (www.biojobsblog.com) and social media enthusiast who, along with Dr. Vincent Racaniello started an online social network site for bioscientists called BioCrowd (www.biocrowd.com). Also, my colleague Mike Dudley and I recently launched a medical devices company called Artemes Technologies Inc. (www.artemestechnologies.com) that is developing a novel drug delivery device for lyophilized protein-based drugs.

Unlike most scientists, my career path has taken many unexpected twists and turns. I never intended it to be as convoluted as it has turned out to be. Nevertheless, I believe that my unusual career trajectory has transformed me into a more well-rounded scientist than I would have been if I had been able to pursue my intended academic career. In retrospect, I attribute my career successes to solid problem solving skills, an unrelenting desire to continue to learn and an unwavering choice to take risks. Finally, and perhaps most important, I learned that there is no right or wrong career path in the life sciences—only the one that you choose for yourself!

Until next time…

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