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8 most in-demand life science jobs in Singapore

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A slowing economy has led to redundancies and jobs cuts in various industries throughout the year. Employees are increasingly worried about job security and organisations are adopting a “wait-and-see” approach to the volatile economic environment. Despite the uncertainty, the life science industry continues to power ahead in Singapore with demand for life science talent remaining strong as the industry continues to mature. In this article, Randstad looks at the 8 most in-demand life science jobs in Singapore.

1. Front-end sale

The backbone for any commercial business is the front-end sales role. Sales specialists with strong business acumen are highly sought-after in this space – as they are often the key point of contact for assigned regions and customer segments. These sales specialists are expected to drive business and contribute to the organisation’s bottom line, typically set by their sales managers.

There is also a strong demand for account managers to focus on customer retention and increase share of wallet for existing clients. Candidates with a passion to grow the business and build an excellent KOL network that translates to sales growth will find this role both challenging and exciting.

There seems to be high turnover for junior sales specialists and account managers, who tend to leave after 3 to 4 years as they seek growth prospects or enhanced functional responsibility. The more senior employees however prefer stability, attractive company benefits and a strong organisational culture.

In addition, due to having responsibility for a team and a larger business, they tend to remain in their positions much longer. Having found a happy equilibrium between their professional aspirations and an established KOL network which they have built over time, these senior employees are more motivated to retain their teams while pursuing a stable growth for the organisation.

2. Distributor management

Emerging markets in this industry are generally coined as markets with almost zero product presence, regardless of the economic health of the markets. These markets present opportunities for profitable – almost double digit – growth for life sciences companies.

However such growth tends to be tagged with a significant challenge:  markets that are destined for potential growth typically possess the least amount of experience and knowledge. As a result, establishing a local supply chain enlisting the help of local distributors could be seen seen as a solution to bridge the gap between experience and opportunity.

We generally see a high demand in distributor management roles especially within ASEAN where markets are either untapped or at their infancy stage. Companies often begin to go direct and setting up a local office once a healthy market reach is established, which seemed to be the natural progression for this role as well.

3. Regulatory affairs

The regulatory function in healthcare industries is vital in making safe and effective healthcare products available worldwide. Products that are heavily regulated are wide ranging including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, in vitro diagnostics (IVD), biologics and biotechnology, nutritional products, cosmetics and veterinary products.

The regulatory professional’s roles and responsibilities often begin in the research and development phases, moving into clinical trials and extending through to premarket approvals, manufacturing, labeling and advertising and postmarket surveillance.

Singapore’s status as a regional office hub (in some cases, global hubs) for multinationals also offers opportunities to assume local and regional / global responsibilities in Singapore. Jobs in regulatory affairs tend to offer life-long career development opportunities.

4. Application specialist

An application specialist is an integral part of the sales support team for every biotechnology and diagnostic company.  As the products may vary across different types of companies (for e.g.  genomics, proteomics, analytical instruments, consumables, capital instruments etc.), the technical qualifications required of a candidate in this space also seem to vary accordingly.

The application specialist is essentially considered the key contact when it comes to providing pre-sales and post-sales support. They also help in developing the brand value of the product while playing a crucial role in establishing long-term relationships with the end users. Often, these specialists would have mastered the product functions and delivery, as they are expected to provide trouble shooting whenever required.

In the long term, application specialists can carve a career path which will see them move into a team leader role, and subsequently promoted to a technical manager or director position. Candidates often use this as a stepping stone to assume a full fledged commercial role – so many  will take the opportunity to sharpen their business acumen while nurturing their technical expertise.

5. Medical science liaison (MSLs)

A relatively new position within the pharmaceutical industry here in Singapore, Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) are very much in demand as they are seen to be vital to a company’s success. They work throughout a product’s lifecycle, help to ensure that products are utilized effectively, serve as scientific peers and resources within the medical community, and are scientific experts to internal colleagues. The main purpose of the MSL role is to establish and maintain peer-peer relationships with leading physicians, referred to as Key Opinion Leaders (KOL’s), at major academic institutions and clinics.

Originally called Medical Science Liaisons, over the years, companies have used various names for the role including: Medical Liaisons, Medical Managers, Regional Scientific Managers, Clinical Liaisons and Scientific Affairs Managers among others. Originally, the first MSLs were selected from experienced sales representatives who had strong scientific backgrounds to bring a higher degree of clinical and educational expertise to the medical professionals they were working with.

Over the years, MSL teams have been made up of individuals with various scientific backgrounds including: sales reps, or candidates with nursing backgrounds, various doctoral degrees or other clinical backgrounds.

6. Research & development

Singapore has proven to be a solid if not spectacular location for research and development opportunities. Buoyed by the government’s desire to establish a knowledge-based economy and a high skilled workforce, pharmaceutical, biotechnology and nutrition companies are increasing their R&D footprint in Singapore.

Over the last 5 years, we have seen an increase in demand for scientists, exploring and developing new processes and products within the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and nutrition industries. Companies and research institutions are typically looking for candidates with post-degree qualification (Master or PhD) in various scientific and technical disciplines to work as Analytical Scientist, Process Development Scientist, Method Development Scientist and Research Manager.

7. SAP consultant

These consultants are highly sought-after as SAP remains the predominant ERP system used by many organisations – due to its scalability and how it can be integrated with different types of business/inhouse systems.

We see most demand coming from organisations that are setting up new manufacturing sites/plants – and they tend to attract candidates who are currently doing maintenance/support but looking to work more on projects. This subsequently creates a churn – requiring more people to move into the roles that have now been left empty.

SAP consultants tend to either be technical people with very strong configuration and implementation skills, or functional project managers who are SAP super users with the ability to utilise their knowledge of life science specific business knowledge (e.g. FDA, GMP standards).

The clients typically value the technical skills/business domain knowledge, but if you are aiming to be a project manager, you need to come with the ability to effectively manage senior level stakeholders at a regional level.

8. Infrastructure engineers

Due to the sensitivity of information being hosted, the majority of organisations in life sciences tend not to outsource the management of their IT infrastructure to third party vendors. This means that most life science companies will almost always have in-house engineers handling the setup and maintenance of their internal IT infrastructure.

Candidates who have the relevant skill sets that match what the employers are looking for, with the right geographical scope (local/regional) either at the support or implementation level, are actively sought-after.

Engineers with the knowledge of integrating and supporting IT systems with specialty systems meant for manufacturing lines or warehouse systems will be a differentiating factor, in particular for companies that operate their own manufacturing facility or warehouse.

To find out more about the most in-demand life science positions and salary increases, download the full report here.

To find out more about Randstad, visit their website: http://randstad.com.sg/

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