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Positive spin

The results of the 2009 Pharmaceutical Marketing industry career survey imply we are entering 2010 from an optimistic vantage

A spinning top on a red backgroundRaise your hand if you are sick of hearing about change. It's all we seem to hear about these days – changes to the economy, changes to lifestyle as a result of the economy, changes to earnings, and spending and work paradigms, changes to what we sell, how we sell and who we sell it to. New sales models, new customers, new channels and even a new vocabulary. Social networking is no longer that thing you do at parties, but rather something you do with Web 2.O. Even words like access, innovation and value are being redefined.

It was with this in mind that, this year, Pharmaceutical Marketing's annual industry career survey, conducted and analysed by ICM Research, should have a slightly different intent. Instead of just gauging annual shifts in the industry and providing a barometer by which marketers can assess their own position, this year we wanted to delve a little deeper into the effects of the current business and economic climate on pharma, and get a handle on the sentiments behind that change. Do marketers feel the impact on their day-to-day workings and earnings? Just how secure do they feel?

Through input from 257 respondents in roles ranging from product and brand management, through marketing, sales, communications and business intelligence, to NHS liaison and procurement, the results of this year's ICM research provide us with a snapshot of how pharmaceutical marketers and executives perceive the changing business and economic landscape and understand better how affected by it they feel.

General sentiment
The good news is that the majority of respondents this year feel that the pharmaceutical industry is coping "quite well" with the current business and economic climate. Men and women are equally positive in their feedback, with only 5 per cent feeling the industry was not coping at all well. There is an interesting age split evident however. Of those under the age of 29, 23 per cent feel the industry was doing "quite well"; 59 per cent feel it was doing "well" and 14 per cent think it is doing "very well".

The positive sentiment decreases incrementally as the age bracket increases, with over 50 year olds exhibiting the least positive outlook. While 68 per cent of this group think the industry is doing "quite well" and 16 per cent feel it is doing "well", 10 per cent are concerned that it is doing "not at all well".

54 per cent of respondents said they are "quite" optimistic about the future of the pharmaceutical industry, with 25 per cent saying they were "very" optimistic. The 10 per cent of respondents last year that said they were "not very" optimistic decreased to 8 per cent this year. There was general consistency this year with last year's finding regarding the amount of respondents that expect to remain in the pharmaceutical / healthcare industry for the rest of their careers. 51 per cent answered yes to this question, with only 10 per cent saying they expect to pursue a career outside pharma at some stage. 28 per cent claim they are undecided. Looking at the implications of the current climate on day–to-day operations, 49 per cent of respondents believe their role has "changed a little" due to the current business and economic crisis, while 32 per cent don't believe it has changed at all.

Impact on earnings
Salary increases appear to have been largely unaffected by the current economic climate, with bonuses just slightly reduced from those offered and anticipated last year. The mean salary this year is £65,940, with a median of £60,000 up from £56,000 last year. Men still earn considerably more than their female counterparts, with relative means of £70,820 and £58,950 respectively. 15 per cent of male respondents earn more than £100k, compared to 5 per cent of women. When ranking qualifications those with an MBA earn the highest mean salary, approximately £3,000 more per annum than the next highest salary bracket, which goes to those with PhDs. The mean salary for respondents under the age of 29 is £38,980, rising incrementally through the age brackets to the 45-49 category who earn an average of £78,750. This then dips again to a mean of £68,870 for the 50+ category.

50 per cent of all respondents had received a salary increase of 2-5 per cent of their annual income over the past 12 months. This is down in number from the 73 per cent who received this amount last year. The number who receive less than 2 per cent is up from 13 per cent last year to 21 per cent this year, meaning more people received a smaller percentage increase this year than did in 2008.

Only 5 per cent received a pay increase of more than 10 per cent, however this is up from last year's 3 per cent. Not surprising, men were slightly more advantaged than their female counterparts when it came to an increase, with more receiving pay rises of 2-5 and 6-10 per cent than the women surveyed. Generally the same increases are expected from respondents over the next 12 months, and not surprisingly, while the majority of respondents anticipate increases of 2-5 per cent, more men than women hope for an increase of 6-10 per cent. 58 per cent of respondents said their companies operated a performance related pay scheme.

Consistent with last year's findings, just 2 per cent of respondents received mortgage assistance from their firms in 2009, down 50 per cent from 2007. In addition, like last year, company pension schemes (contributory), private healthcare and flexible working remain the most-prized benefits. Company pension schemes (non-contributory) was the most sought after benefit by all respondents who do not have it, especially men, with females favouring flexible working as a benefit. Men would also value profit share and share option schemes. Only 7 per cent of all those questioned currently receive a profit share scheme, 38 per cent have a share option scheme and 40 per cent have flexible working.

Changing work patterns
Working hours appear to have either stayed the same or increased over the last year, with the majority of respondents fairly evenly split between an average work day of 8-9 hours and 10-11 hours (37 and 38 per cent respectively). 12 per cent said they worked 8 hours and 7 per cent said they worked 12-13 hours a day. When those who said their working hours had increased were asked about the reason for this change, the most common response was that it was due to increased business and marketing activity. Only executives said that the reason for their increased working hours was a change in role. 11 per cent said it was due to restructuring, 7 per cent said it was caused by a head count freeze and 5 per cent attributed it to redundancies in the department. Those that said they were working less hours on average mainly attributed this to a change in role or a change in personal circumstances, eg working part time.

58 per cent of respondents said they work at home in the evenings (71 per cent of directors, 56 per cent of department heads, 66 per cent of group senior management, 61 per cent of managers and 43 per cent of executives).

There was a fairly even split with regards to whether respondents work on weekends. The majority of those under 34 said they do, while those between 35 and 50+ said they do not. The majority of respondents, however, stated they use their mobile devices for business purposes during the evenings, on weekends and while on holiday. Some even admitted to using them in bed, at a child's event (such as a birthday or school play), at the gym and in the bath. 4 per cent have used their mobile devices at a wedding, and 2 per cent at a funeral, revealing the increasing degree of invasiveness of work into personal time.

Social media
When asked which of the social media platforms companies engage with, LinkedIn was a clear favourite, garnering 34 per cent of the responses. This was second only to the "none of the above" option, which surprisingly – given all the talk about social media - received a 54 per cent response. Most respondents say they "somewhat agree" that digital and social media strategy will play a significant role in marketing plans for the next three years.

With the Climate Change Conference that took place in Copenhagen in December filling headlines we were interested to find out how the growing consciousness of green issues is affecting travel in the pharmaceutical industry. Surely this, coupled with existing technologies such as webinars and video conferencing, and the cost concerns associated with travel, would be showing in the amount of travel pharmaceutical marketers are expected to undertake? The survey results reveal that the majority of respondents have taken less than three domestic flights for work purposes in the last 12 months, with a relatively high percentage travelling between three and 10 times domestically in the 12 months past. The same pattern emerges for European and long-haul travel. While a third of executives state that the number of flights they have taken has increased from previous years, there was an equal split among the rest, with almost the same number saying they had decreased as those that said they had stayed the same as previous years.

When asked why the number of flights taken over the last year might have changed, 47 per cent attributed this to their role changing, 26 per cent said it was because their company had cut back on the amount of business travel due to the credit crisis, 11 per cent said it was due to developments in technology, which meant face-to-face meetings were not needed, 9 per cent said it was because their business was now more internationally focused and only 3 per cent said that they had been encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint. This means that despite the initiatives governments are taking to tackle environmental issues and the current global financial crisis, pharmaceutical companies have not made this a priority consideration yet.

Thinking about the future
The majority of respondents have worked for their current company for over three years, and most have been in their current position for longer than a year. 41 per cent say they have been in their present role for 1-2 years, and 19 per cent for 3-5 years. However, 56 per cent state they updated their CVs within the last year. The male respondents have a more defined career plan than the women, with 54 per cent of men and 41 per cent of women claiming to have a 5-year career plan in place.

The question of how concerned respondents are about their current pension provision revealed an interesting polarity, with the net concerned amount and the net not concerned amount both totalling 44 per cent.

Despite the growth in focus on emerging markets over the past year, most respondents still felt that the US was the region most beneficial to gain experience in for career progression.

So, despite sysmic shifts in the business and economic environment, it would appear from the findings of this survey that not much has changed in the day-to-day lives of pharma execs. Sentiment towards the industry and how it is navigating its way through tough times is generally positive; earnings are up and work patterns have remained relatively consistent from last year. Perhaps this is because, in this time of change, the one thing that has remained constant is the impending patent expiries and the widely acknowledged need to replace the blockbuster model. Plans to face this challenge have been playing out over a number of years and so it makes sense that members of the industry would not see much change. Perhaps it is because pharma has remained cash strong through the recession, or perhaps it is because we are speaking to a sample where 81 per cent have not experienced a redundancy within the past year. What ever the reason, the results of the 2009 Pharmaceutical Marketing industry career survey imply we are entering 2010 from a positive vantage and with the commitment and energy it takes to build on the achievements of last year.

Download full results


The Author
Compiled inhouse based on research conducted by ICM Research


The 2009 Industry Career Survey was sponsored by:

Carys Mills logo


Related links

2008 Industry career survey results 


13th January 2010


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