How do you see the culture within pharma?

Company culture has an enormous effect on productivity and, ultimately, shareholders. There is a direct correlation between company culture and the number of employees; the bigger the company, the worse the company culture. Preparing the company for the imminent changes coming to healthcare should be a top priority, but it’s not.

Big pharma is a corporation whose primary job is to maximize profits regardless of the effect on patients. That is a fact. But as we see in the tech sector, a culture change shift can affect the company and its stock.

Although CEOs care less about employees and more about shareholders, that is the environment of business today. Running a pharma company is much more complicated because you’re dealing with products in a short time to earn profits. For that reason, pharma “games” the system with challenges to patents, but has anyone ever asked how employees feel about the company they work for?

There are, from what I can tell five types of pharma employees:

1ne: The lifer – Someone who has been with the company a long time and is very politically connected. They use their power to protect their jobs and put disruptors in their place. They make outstanding salaries which translate to golden handcuffs.

2wo: The jumper – These people jump from pharma company to pharma company, often with better job titles and more money. They try to “fit in” rather than bring new ideas or skills.

3hree: The taskmaster – They love task-oriented projects and could care less about the company or who it affects. To them, “give me the paycheck” and let me work.

4our: The dreamer – Someone who lies to themselves about the difference our products make to justify pharma’s huge mistakes and high prices. To them, the media is biased, and pharma is a target.

5ive: Disruptor – Someone who asks, “why are we doing this?” or “why can’t we do this?”. They have a high sense of empathy and try to change the organization’s persona but are seen as troublemakers and people who “don’t fit in.”

The other troubling issue I have noticed is that as small biotech firms become more extensive, they descend into big pharma’s bad habits with many meetings and matrix decision-making. Too many people are there to cash in on the stock if the company is acquired.

The current crop of CEOs has failed us. Rather than focus on strategic challenges, they focus on the balance sheet for the next fiscal year. Oops! I forgot; pharma is a business.