As the year 2022 draws to a close, what are managers thinking at the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies and medical device companies? We surveyed 86 managers at these companies to find out what’s on their minds.
For many managers, a common theme is the new normal of working from home. They often lament the fact that their days are full of back-to-back team meetings. “At least before COVID, we could go from one meeting room to another,” says one brand director. “Much is lost when hallway conversations are no longer happening. Online meetings are sterile. We really miss the casual conversations and relationship-building that happen in person. That kind of personal interaction is particularly important in a small Japanese subsidiary.”
“Certainly, working from home offers great flexibility. But it is not so great for culture and collaboration,” explains a country manager at a midsize pharmaceutical company. “We need to find the right balance. Redesigning our offices would go a long way toward finding this balance.”
It’s not all doom and gloom in the eyes of these managers. One brand director says that the great flexibility made possible by working from home can help employees to save time and find a better balance of personal life and work life. “It really depends on the type of job. If a job requires you to concentrate to create something, using only your own expertise, your home may be a really good environment for doing that, and working from home may be the best option.”
Nearly 50 percent of those surveyed believe that pipeline and succession planning are a major concern. One director of research and development believes that “the number of talented people who show very strong leadership seems to be decreasing.” At the same time, though, two veterans of the recruiting industry in Japan believe that there has been a significant increase in talented bilingual managers.
Even if there has been a broad increase in talent, we can agree with a vice president of human resources APAC Pharmaceutical when she says that in Japan, “finding talented leaders with experience in developing and launching innovation while also understanding common global business concepts is a great challenge.”
Several years ago, Japanese companies followed an implicit rule that there was no use introducing gaijin candidates. Applications had closed! But although Japan is still a relatively homogenous society, the number of talented bilingual individuals coming to Japan’s top institutions has increased. With growing demand for data scientists, UX/UI programmers, and digital marketers, companies are now seeking foreign individuals who have a high degree of expertise in these fields.
Whether people are working at home or in the office, there is much that firms can do to make sure their firm or team has the right vibe. A positive vibe that says it’s okay to fail and okay to be yourself will attract new talent and encourage existing employees to return to the office. Let 2023 be a year full of good vibes.