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U.S. Life Sciences CEOs Upbeat About Hiring, Bullish About Industry’s Prospects: KPMG Survey

U.S. Life Sciences CEOs Upbeat about Hiring: Survey

Approximately 84 percent of pharma, med device executives plan to add jobs in next 12 months


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CEOs in the life sciences business are more bullish about their own sector than their peers in other industries, and approximately 84 percent plan to hire in the next 12 months, according to KPMG LLP’s U.S. CEO Outlook 2016.

All 38 life sciences CEOs surveyed were confident about their prospects for growth in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device sector during the next three years. New customers were seen as the biggest driver of growth during the next three years, according to 37 percent of CEOs surveyed. Another 29 percent viewed new products as the biggest growth driver, the survey said.

“CEOs by their very nature tend to be optimistic people and the industry is coming to terms with its challenges,” said Alison Little, Advisory Leader for Life Sciences at KPMG. “Drug makers are much better positioned than they were five-to-eight years ago when sales of many blockbuster medications were evaporating from cheaper, generic versions entering the market. Product pipelines are much stronger now and many of the drug makers have merged or focused their product portfolios.”

Competition, an inability to increase market share, and the inability to stay on top of new products/services and technologies are among the life sciences CEOs’ biggest concerns, the survey said.

With the optimistic outlook for the industry, many life sciences organizations are expecting their businesses to transform. Only 45 percent of CEOs said their companies “will be largely the same firm we are today” compared with the 61 percent of CEOs surveyed overall.

“This reflects the reality of a very narrow window for products to reach the market before facing competition or patent expirations,” Little said.
The top three areas where life sciences CEOs plan to “devote significant investment/resources” in the next three years include expanding facilities (32 percent), advertising & marketing (32 percent) and measurement & analysis of the customer (26 percent).

Room for Hiring

Only 16 percent of life sciences CEOs said they are keeping their workforce unchanged during the next 12 months, compared with 31 percent across all industries. During the next three years, 76 percent of life sciences CEOs are expanding headcount between 6 and 10 percent, the survey found. None of the life sciences CEOs surveyed anticipate cutting jobs in the next three years and 11 percent found they were likely to expand headcount by more than 10 percent.

“Most of the opportunities appear to be aimed at the sales, technical and scientific positions,” Little said. “Many administrative and back office functions have been through wrenching changes to become more efficient, leaving fewer opportunities than those in research & development, manufacturing, IT and customer facing positions, such as sales.”



KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm (, is the U.S. member firm of KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”). KPMG International’s member firms have 174,000 professionals, including more than 9,000 partners, in 155 countries.


Bill Borden
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