Why Now is the Best Time to Make the Switch to Pharma and Biotech
Switching your career path will always feel like a daunting undertaking, and there's no perfect time to do it. And to make matters worse, there will almost always be nay-sayers and moments of difficulty along the way to securing your new job. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.
If you are interested in biopharma or biotech and are passionate about the work that can be done within a position in those fields, now is the time to consider a career change.
The biopharma and biotech fields have grown notably in the last ten years. Biotech companies have seen a 60% uptick in investments since 2020, and the research and development sector has grown due to the above-average increase in drugs approved for sale in the last ten years.
Working in these fields, especially since the pandemic started, can be difficult. But the results may very well end up being worth the trouble.
In an interview with BioSpace, Axogen's Chief Human Resources Officer Maria Martinez put it best: "Knowing that your work is directly or indirectly improving or extending quality of life for the people who benefit from your product is rewarding and professionally and personally satisfying."
She said working in this field in particular "is a game of patience, commitment, and perseverance." All three of those skills are necessary if you're serious about working at any biopharma or biotech company, no matter the category of work being done.
"Change doesn't happen overnight, taking a product from ideation to market can take months or even years," she said. "But the payoff is always worth it."
Why You Should Consider Switching to Biotech and Pharma
Axogen is a development company that works to create surgical solutions for peripheral nerve repair. They develop tools that are primarily used by hand surgeons, reconstructive plastic surgeons, and oral surgeons for a variety of nerve-repairing procedures.
Simply put, the work being done by Axogen on peripheral nerve repair translates into helping patients touch and feel. For some patients, these actions wouldn't be possible or pleasurable without repairs to nerve damage.
Axogen is a mid-size company, with around 400 active employees. According to its website, Axogen is "the only company solely dedicated to peripheral nerve repair."
Martinez said she expects the company to grow by about 10% in the next year, depending on business needs.
Specifically, the nerve repair and regeneration market are expected to grow in the next ten years due to the increased prevalence of neuro-generative disorders like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This projected growth due to an increased need is a trend seen across many biopharma companies, especially those directly involved with product development.
Therapeutics currently makes up the largest portion of biotech categories, while diagnostics and manufacturing are close behind. Other categories of biotech that are growing include bioelectronics, genomics and agricultural bio, among others. BioSpace previously reported about the blurring lines between biotech and biopharma, so if you're thinking about making the switch to either field, similar information and tips will likely apply.
The Skills You Need to Make the Jump
Before jumping into the application process headfirst, a good way to focus your search is by considering the specialty. No matter what area of biotech or biopharma you are interested in, there is a company whose sole focus is to further the research and development of products regarding that topic or illness.
Martinez said the perfect candidate is one who brings something more to the table, as well as a passion for the work.
"We look for candidates who augment and enhance our culture rather than simply fit into it," she said. "Candidates who quickly recognize that our end goal and company mission is to improve quality of life for patients and understand how their role helps achieve that goal will do well at Axogen."
Candidates with a history in customer care, finances, human resources, and other fields may often have transferable skills that will do well in the biotech industry.
The companies a candidate has worked with before will also be considered - not because there's a judgment on the companies, but because it's important to see how a candidate has learned from their past experiences.
"When we find those candidates who are curious, who want to learn and teach, have big company processes and smaller company scrappiness, that often is a great match," Martinez said.
The Appeal of Working in Pharma and Biotech
Working in the biotech or biopharma industry involves learning and adapting every day to reach a common goal. An exhilarating part of that process is the brilliant minds that are coming together to accomplish that goal, together.
"The experience is unlike any other," Martinez said of working in the industry. "The psychological reward of knowing your work could change or save someone's life is near impossible to duplicate."
If you're considering a career change to the biotech or biopharma industries, check out our job board on the BioSpace website to learn more about the companies and jobs that interest you.