In this podcast, we interviewed Hillary Kaplan, Director, Bioprocess CMC Development & Operations, Klein Hersh about the job outlook for the biomanufacturing industry from a recruiter’s perspective.
Hillary joined Klein Hersh as in Intern in 2008 assisting the discovery team with research and various projects. She returned as a full time recruiter in 2011 and has since helped grow the bioprocess development and manufacturing practice. Prior, Hillary attended the Fox School of Business, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA where she earned a BBA in Marketing.
Hillary partners with organizations ranging from VC backed start-ups and mid-size biotechs to large multinational biopharma companies in helping to identify individuals working exclusively in biologics/large molecule development. These scientific and operational leaders tend to be formally trained in Chemical/Biomolecular Engineering and are tasked with bridging the gap between R&D and development and readying products for manufacturing and launch.
While at KHI, Hillary has been instrumental in honing her business to partner with clients developing emerging technology in the fields of cell and gene therapy, regenerative medicine, and stem cells. In addition, Hillary works around more traditional commercialized products such as vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and other therapeutic proteins. She has also expanded into analytical leadership opportunities still keeping a niche focus on the areas listed above.
We began the interview by talking about Hillary’s work with Klein Hersh and how she is a subject matter expert specifically on bioprocess operations. I asked her how she has seen the industry change with respect to hiring and she said that toward the end of 2014, they began to see an increase in activity around cell based therapies and emerging technology related hiring. This has continued to grow and in 2016, over 50% of placements were in stem cell, regenerative medicine, T Cell, or gene therapy related fields.
Next I asked her how the increase in mergers and acquisitions were affecting the biomanufacturing job market. She referenced an infographic, that depicts how 60 Pharma companies have been consolidated into 10 over the past 20 years. She went on to say that it is certainly having an impact in the industry, but as long as R&D spending remains good then the outlook for the industry as a whole is still very positive.
We then talked about what you should do if you are contacted by a recruiter, particularly if you are happy and not currently looking to change employment. Should you still talk with them? Hillary made a great point in explaining that the best time to connect and build a relationship with a recruiter is when you are not actively looking. She said that a good recruiter can be your “eyes and ears” in the industry and will already be up to speed if you ever need to change positions. Plus Hillary emphasized that all her conversations with prospective employees are strictly confidential.
I followed up by asking about when you should seek out a recruiter. She explained that if you don’t have a relationship established already, it is good to look for a recruiter if you are actively searching for a position or if you are interesting in finding out what the market is like. A recruiter may have specific contacts in companies that would help in finding a particular job in a particular area. This kind of direct contact isn’t available when applying online for example. In addition, a good recruiter will also work to get a idea of what is important to you in a job environment, for example – large vs. small companies, culture, location, and other priorities. Then they can use this information to try and find the right job and culture fit for you.
Hillary went on to explain why companies use external search firms to find candidates. Often if they have a highly specialized need, a fast timeline for filling the position, or their internal HR or other more general recruiters haven’t been successful or don’t have the contacts, they will utilize an external search firm to assist.
Next we discussed where is biotech growing in the US. Hillary said that there is continued growth in the biotech hubs – Boston and San Francisco. There is also growth in areas where there is an increase in academic partnerships, for instance, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, etc.
We finished the interview with Hillary sharing some advice about keeping an open mind when a recruiter calls and if you aren’t interested in the position, it can be nice to provide a referral of someone else who might be.