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Bridge the gap

This year's Industry Career Survey highlights increasing sobriety and disparity in the pharma industry

A large suspension bridgeThe results of Pharmaceutical Marketing's 2010 Industry Career Survey have been gathered, collated and analysed, and have revealed that the mood of the industry – which was high at the beginning of the year, according to last year's survey results – has been slightly dampened. While there is still parity in most regards with no dramatic changes in evidence compared to the 2009 results, enthusiasm is slightly more muted now.

In last year's survey, a staggering 92 per cent of respondents said that they felt either 'quite' or 'very' optimistic about the future of the industry. The figure has fallen slightly to 87 per cent this year, which is nevertheless an exceptionally high figure in this sober economic climate.

However, the slight deterioration in conditions may well be the reason that optimism is waning, as respondents are working longer hours for less money.


Pharmaceutical Marketing's 2010 Industry Career Survey is sponsored by: 


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Chemistry Search and Selection log


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The average salary is down almost £4,000 per year compared with the mean from 2009 and the percentage of respondents earning more than £100,000 per year has also dropped, from 15 per cent to 13 per cent of men and from 5 per cent to 4 per cent of women.

Although most respondents (85 per cent)  received a salary increase of up to 5 per cent over the past year, the percentage of respondents receiving an increase of less than 2 per cent almost doubled, from 21 per cent last year to 38 per cent this year. Moving forward, only 10 per cent expect an increase exceeding 6 per cent over the coming year, with most (54 per cent) anticipating a rise of 2-5 per cent.

The drop in average salary comes as 45 per cent of respondents saw an increase of 'a little' or 'a lot' in their working hours, most commonly due to a change in role and restructuring. Of those who have experienced a change in role over the last year, 61 per cent attribute this at least in part to the current business and economic climate. Only 8 per cent of all respondents reported a decrease in average daily working hours.

However, despite the perception of lengthening business hours, the average working day of 9.4 hours has shown no noticeable shift since 2009. Nevertheless, 92 per cent of respondents reported that the requirement to work in their free time has either stayed the same (56 per cent) or increased (36 per cent), but 67 per cent of respondents thought that working during evenings, at weekends or over holidays was either 'expected' (15 per cent) or 'part of the job' (52 per cent).

Perhaps as a sign of the times, 12 per cent of respondents reported that they had personally experienced a redundancy in the last year. Additionally, 22 per cent had experienced a company merger or acquisition.

Regardless of the increased difficulties faced this year, loyalty seems to be increasing slightly: the percentage of respondents expecting to remain in the pharmaceutical industry for the rest of their careers increased from 51 per cent in 2009 to 53 per cent this year. However, 53 per cent are 'quite' or 'very' concerned about their current pension provision and accordingly half of all respondents have made additional pension provisions outside of those offered by their companies.

Pharma's 'Average Joe'
The average respondent was male (57 per cent of total respondents), aged 35-39 (19 per cent), with a bachelor's degree (59 per cent), who has worked for an ethical pharma company (43 per cent) employing more than 1,000 people (21 per cent) for more than five years (51 per cent).

He has updated his CV in the last two years (82 per cent) and has a five- or 10-year career plan (59 per cent), but thinks that the role he has in five years' time will be within the same company where he currently works (64 per cent).

The 'Average Joe' in pharma almost certainly uses a laptop (80 per cent) and is more likely to stay in touch with a BlackBerry (59 per cent) than an iPhone (30 per cent). If he has regional experience, which is highly probable (67 per cent), then it is most likely to be in central Europe (42 per cent), though he considers the US to be the most beneficial market in which to gain the relevant experience for his career progression (40 per cent).

The average basic salary is £62,000, and the vast majority of respondents (88 per cent) still receive a bonus, with 65 per cent working in companies that offer performance-related pay. This was more common in companies with more than 500 employees (75 per cent).

Private healthcare and contributory pensions are the most commonly received benefits, with 8 in 10 receiving these. These are followed by life assurance benefits (70 per cent) and critical illness benefits (53 per cent), while the least common benefits were mortgage/mortgage assistance and company crèche (1 per cent, respectively) and profit sharing schemes (9 per cent). Nearly half of all respondents (47 per cent) said that their most valued benefit was the company pension scheme (contributory).

Looking ahead, 61 per cent of respondents expect to retire between the ages of 60 and 69.

This brief outline does not give the complete picture, and in fact obscures some of the diversity that exists within the industry. As well as the seemingly inevitable difference between male and female participants, there were also differences between respondents in terms of age, company size and level of academic qualification.

Gender inequality
The female respondents to our survey tended to be younger, earn less, work shorter days (and work less in their free time) and have less advanced qualifications than their male counterparts (in percentage terms).

Twice as many women as men work 8 hours per day (24 per cent versus 12 per cent), and none of the female respondents to the survey worked more than 14 hours per day, compared with 5 per cent of male respondents. Women were slightly less likely than men to work at home in the evenings (56 per cent women versus 68 per cent men), and far less likely to work at the weekend (37 per cent women versus 61 per cent men).

However, women whose working hours have increased over the last year are more likely to attribute this to increased business/marketing activity (46 per cent women versus 31 per cent men) or a change of personal circumstance (8 per cent women versus 2 per cent men) whereas men were almost twice as likely to have experienced a change of role (22 per cent women versus 42 per cent men).

Women were also far more likely to think that any change in their working hours had no correlation to the current business and economic climate (49 per cent) while 42 per cent of men thought that the climate had 'a lot' to do with the change in their working hours.

Women are more than two and a half times as likely as men not to receive a bonus (18 per cent versus 7 per cent); however, they were far more likely to receive a salary increase of more than 10 per cent (8 per cent, compared with 2 per cent of men).

In terms of other benefits, women were less likely to have access to critical illness benefits or a share option scheme than their male counterparts (41 per cent women versus 61 per cent men and 28 per cent women versus 42 per cent men, respectively).

Interestingly, none of the female respondents reported having access to a company crèche, while 2 per cent of men did. However, women are twice as likely to classify a company crèche as a benefit they would most value should it be available (8 per cent versus 4 per cent of men), while they were more likely than men to classify flexible working as the most prized benefit they currently receive (19 per cent versus 7 per cent of men).

Our female respondents were more likely than the male to have a diploma in marketing (53 per cent versus 47 per cent) and men were more likely to have a master's degree, MBA or PhD (41 per cent of women versus 59 per cent of men). In absolute terms, however, the most common qualification for all respondents to hold, regardless of gender, was a bachelor's degree. Women were more likely than men to respond that they intended to gain (51 per cent versus 36 per cent) or were currently studying for (18 per cent versus 7 per cent) further qualifications.

The survey's female respondents were far more likely than the male respondents to be younger and to earn less. Respondents under the age of 29 were 76 per cent female and 24 per cent male; aged 30-39, 44 per cent female and 56 per cent male; aged 40-49, 39 per cent female and 61 per cent male; aged 50 or older, 22 per cent of respondents were female and 78 per cent were male.

Salaries followed a similar pattern: of respondents earning under £35,000, 79 per cent were female and 21 per cent were male; earning between £35,000 and £69,000, 43 per cent were female and 57 per cent were male, and of respondents earning more than £70,000 per year, 25 per cent were female and 75 per cent were male.

Age gap
Respondents to the survey who were under the age of 29 earned half of the average salary reported by all respondents: £31,000 per year compared with an average of £62,000. Those aged 40-49 fell into the highest salary bracket, earning over £76,000 per year on average.

Those on lower salaries (under £35,000) – in effect, the survey's younger respondents – were less likely to receive a bonus: only 56 per cent of these lower earners received a bonus, compared with 90 per cent of those earning above the £35,000 threshold.

Perhaps understandably, those under the age of 29 are the most likely to see themselves moving away from their current company within the next five years: 52 per cent, compared with 36 per cent of overall respondents. Among 40-49 year olds, this fell to just over a quarter of respondents (26 per cent).

Under-29s are also disproportionately likely to be uncertain about whether they will remain in the pharmaceutical industry at all for the rest of their careers: 64 per cent compared with an average of 40 per cent.

Though 60 per cent of under-29s claim to be working longer days than they were 12 months ago, a quarter (24 per cent) of this age group work 8-hour days, which is the highest proportion of any age (16 per cent overall). However, compared to the average figure (11 per cent), a much higher proportion of younger respondents are currently studying for a further qualification (28 per cent).

As is perhaps to be expected, social media use is also much more prevalent among younger respondents: 84 per cent of under-29s use Facebook in a personal capacity, compared with just 33 per cent of over-50s.

However, 78 per cent of 30-49 year olds used LinkedIn in a personal capacity, compared with 56 per cent of under-29s. This may be a reflection of priorities shifting with age, as Facebook is used predominantly for social interaction whereas LinkedIn is a business networking tool.

Older respondents are more likely to be concerned about the current pension provision (71 per cent among over-50s, compared with 40 per cent of under-29s and 53 per cent overall) and to have made additional pension provisions outside of those offered by their companies: 69 per cent compared with just 8 per cent of under-29s.

Where are we?
As we move into 2011 and the beginning of the 'sober' decade promised for Cameron's Britain, optimism and loyalty in pharma remain high, with only a slight dip on figures from last year. However, it seems stereotypes and the glass ceiling are alive and well, and the deterioration in working conditions, though slight, does not bode well for the future.

The industry itself remains relatively well recompensed and, to a large degree, insulated from economic peaks and troughs. Nevertheless, we would do well to realise that, even with the difficulties of the last decade behind us, our jobs and our industry remain far from safe as we move forward into 2011 and beyond.

The Author
Compiled by Victoria Farrell, editor of PM based on research conducted by Bryter

15th December 2010


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