22 November, 2020 - 22:01 By News Desk

Creating great teams: Genesis doesn’t need to lead to exodus! Welcome to the show

Success of any venture, project or policy depends heavily on employing the right people with the right skills at the right time, writes Tony Jones, CEO of One Nucleus. That sounds quite obvious, since as John C Maxwell pointed out “teamwork makes the dream work”. 

Maxwell concluded that phrase with “…but a vision becomes a nightmare when the leader has a big dream and a bad team” – a situation everyone seeks to avoid. 

What constitutes excellence in leadership, teams or indeed a collective labour pool is much debated and described widely and this informs the approach of industry, governments and education providers to rising to that challenge. It is acutely felt in the East of England region given the rapid growth at the leading edges of innovation in multiple, converging sectors. 

Competing for the best people

Engaging with members of the One Nucleus network concerns are often raised around the Skills Agenda, how to inspire the next generation of STE(A)M leaders into these careers and how to attract and retain the best teams for future jobs that may not even exist yet. 

That said, there is also the real challenge in the short term of how to recruit the best team for the immediate term, given competition for talent is fierce in this successful Life Sciences cluster right now. 

This may be of heightened concern with technology convergence and the shortage of digital skills driving costs up locally with tech salaries in Cambridge being up to 30 per cent higher than the national average. 

We hear often for example that whilst companies can recruit candidates with excellent laboratory and technical skills from formal education routes, it is broadening their understanding and knowledge of the sector and commercial dynamic they are working within that can be a challenge. 

Meeting that Learning & Development challenge can make a huge difference, both in terms of the value that employees bring to the company over time and the individual’s career progression. 

The increased focus by good employers on developing their staff is brilliant to see. The old fears banished as more follow what Richard Branson described in 2014 with: “Train people well enough so they can leave; treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” 

Perhaps It is not hard to see why larger corporates deploy a rotation system for new graduates such that they clearly see the holistic opportunities and relationships across the company before selecting where they are driven to fit. 

Of course, such rotations are not feasible in single SME entities, which may mean they feel all options are not open in the “Buy, borrow or grow your own” (One Nucleus Blog on the UK R & D Roadmap webinar with Mills & Reeve, July 2020) team development landscape. 

One Nucleus offers a range of training courses that are used by companies to enable their staff in the field of drug discovery and development, management, communication skills and more. 

Such structured learning and development across technical and the so-called softer skills are valued by the employers and employees alike. Learning & Development across such breadth can drive key deliverables such as performance, promotions, loyalty and brand value externally. 

Not least staff retention, or rather lack of, can be an expensive area to ignore when staff development through training can be a much cheaper and fulfilling option. 

There are many indicators to support the optimistic view of growth in the sector and we see these across this region also (Clinical Research Professionals (CRP)/Vacancy soft Life Sciences Review, 2019). 

Real estate continues to see growing and continued demand for space in laboratories and R & D. The sector currently contributes £74 billion to the UK economy, but to fully understand the potential analysis of capital raising (including Mergers and Acquisitions and venture capital  transactions) by UK HQ companies was £27bn in 2019, 135 per cent higher than 2018. 

The sustained success of attracting investment, growth and innovation gives confidence in what our future could be. Data from that CRP report indicated 2019 open vacancies demonstrated a further level of new opportunities, but it also demonstrates the high levels of churn of staff in life sciences. 

Highlighting the need to nurture, support and retain talent where possible. The CRP early forecasts for staff demand in the UK life sciences industry to 2030 indicate a demand for 133,000 skilled scientific staff. Whether organisations have sufficient Learning and Development programs in place to meet their current and future needs remains uncertain but maximising the opportunities available seem a very sensible approach. 

Digital conferences may offer a new dawn

An area often overlooked is the value of informal training that everyone picks up through their daily lives. This can be peer-to-peer at work, through collaborator networks or at external conferences.

Equally, we all acquire knowledge and judgment through non-work experiences as life teaches its lessons. As we approach our annual Genesis conference (www.genesisconference.com) it has promoted a focus on the role attending conferences can play in professional development of employees and those looking to develop their career plan. 

Experience of having students from eg University of Cambridge MPhil in Bioscience Enterprise and Birkbeck College MSc in Bioenterprise courses at Genesis for some time has shown the benefit access to the sessions and networking can make for the career starters and potential employers who meet them.

Undergraduates have similarly had their eyes opened to the array of potential opportunities out there. The pandemic-enforced shift to a digital format brings even greater potential value as it reduces the barriers to entry. 

The benefits of accessing such a conference as Genesis are there no matter what role the individual plays in the company. Equally it is a mechanism by which anyone can gain insights to all aspects of the sector, increasing their value to current employers and future ones as they explore what careers there may be. 

Some benefits of the new world of digital Life Science conferences to consider include:-

  • Broad insight from the conference sessions covering advances in R & D science & technology, future opportunities, investment trends, collaborations and international perspectives
  • On-demand sessions that are pre-recorded and available for all delegates during and post-event
  • Fees for the digital event like Genesis from as low as £90 + VAT per delegate
  • Access to the 1-2-1 partnering and network app for those wishing to meet new contacts and seek greater details on topics of interest
  • For employers enabling their staff to attend, an opportunity for those staff to be ambassadors of your company in the minds of your peer

Looking Beyond the Conference

Without the limitations of physical space and time, event organisers are able to offer hugely more depth to accompany the live sessions. The on-demand flexibility of one event is enhanced by the ability to not just offer those event sessions, but also their On-Demand Archive. 

For One Nucleus this includes material from across the 2020 events. Gaining knowledge from the discussions across all areas of R & D and the wider Life Sciences industry means the attendance fee provides many hours of potential learning. 

A chance to delve deeper into the topics of interest to employees, entrepreneurs shaping their ideas and employers wanting a well-rounded and informed staff teams.

We feel it matters

Enabling such personal development is important to One Nucleus given our aims are to:

  • Support our Life Sciences companies in attracting, retaining and developing the best possible people to their companies
  • Help our region be the best place in the World to be involved in the Life Sciences industry and hence improving patient outcomes globally
  • Open any individual’s eyes to their own career potential
  • Work with all stakeholders to ensure the region creates the optimal labour pool to attract investment that will enable the creation and success of Life Science companies well into the future

It has been clear for some time that the approaches to Learning & Development at all levels have become more mixed mode, more tailored to the individual’s needs and absolutely increasingly online.  

I will close with a quote from Benjamin Franklyn that seems apt: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

Genesis Digital 2020 represents an excellent opportunity for all those engaged in Life Sciences and ultimately working together to create better outcomes for patients. 

Whether an employer, employee or someone working out where their passion lies going forward, there is no substitute for learning. 

So perhaps it is time to continue your own and others’ learning journey by getting involved. We look forward to saying Welcome to the Show!

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