Executive Pharmaceutical Careers and Emerging Leaders

Take Your Next Step

Connect with an advisor to discuss career outcomes, curriculum, and get your questions answered.

Step 1 of 2

New c-suite positions are emerging for inspired leaders with the strength to fully embrace change and lead disruptive transformation.

Pharmaceutical companies and medical device suppliers are searching for a new set of leaders to help them adapt to shifting landscapes and new business models.

Traditional Leadership vs. New Leaders

Here's the deal:

Pharmaceutical and medical supply companies are creating new positions to help guide organizations through disruptive transformations and to meet the need for leaders that are “patient-centric driven, have greater content and scientific expertise, and can understand insights from the vast amount of real-world data generated” in today’s market.

The average senior pharma leadership team among the top 50 pharmaceutical companies has 11 or 12 members, ranging from as few as 4 and as many as 28.

Among the key members in “traditional” positions include:

Chief Medical Officer

Takes the “voice of the patient” role internally, usually reporting to the CEO and often with many externally facing responsibilities, and they usually have an MD background along with half holding a master’s degree.

Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer

Many pharmaceutical companies have chosen to have the Chief Compliance Officer position directly report to the CEO or the board of directors in light of legal and public opinion developments that have negatively affected the industry.

If you aspire to an executive leadership position in the are of ethics and compliance, studies show that 1 of 5 executive-level compliance officers hold a master's degree, 4 of 5 hold a JD, and 4 of 5 are women.

Chief Quality Officer

As part of a long-term transformation beyond simple compliance, med supply companies and big pharma look to Chief Quality Officers (CQO) – typically with roots in the quality function – to lead towards quality assurance and continuous improvement. CQOs often report directly to the CEO. More than half of executive quality officers hold a master’s degree and more than half hold a doctorate.

Emerging Executive Positions

“The right leader is key,” emphasizing that only a person who has the strength to fully embrace change and the confidence to lead transformation will be successful.

The report highlights emerging positions across three areas:

1. Transformation Leaders

Executives that have a deep industry knowledge, are socially adept, and are focused on innovation, will excel in leading organization's with through their strategic vision and management skills.

Some executive leadership roles for transformation leaders include chief transformation officer, chief digital officer and chief data officer.

2. Ecosystem Leaders

Hospitals and health systems rely on partner organizations and 3rd party service providers to help treat patients and manage the health of at-risk populations. Medical supply and pharmaceutical companies are no different.

In an effort to improve health outcomes and streamline operations, organizations are investing in upper level managers that can identify valuable partnerships and manage relationships with their partner network.

If you have a knack for relationship building and a drive to understand how the multitudes of players in the healthcare industry work together to create lasting value for patients, a career as a Chief Patient Officer, Chief Public Affairs Officer, or Chief External Innovation Officer may be in your future.

3. Enabling Leaders

The healthcare industry changes daily. From mergers and acquisitions to internal restructuring for the sake of lowering costs, organizational changes have the potential to cause conflicts in the workplace.

The pharmaceutical industry, recognizing the cost of internal disruptions, identified two types of "enabling leaders" to help support employees, sustain transformation, and maintain healthy work environmentsPeople and culture leaders are exactly as they sound; dedicated to ensuring well-being in the workplace. Productivity leaders are responsible for centralizing responsibilities as the healthcare industry grows in complexity.

Are you a people person who loves productivity hacking? With the right professional experience and industry-recognized credentials, a career as a Chief Inclusion Officer, Chief Culture Officer, or Chief Administration Officer may be in your future.

Chief Pharmacy Executive of a Health System

Report “Elevating Pharmacy Leadership to Meet System Goals”, from the Advisory Board, explains the changing needs in the health system and the benefits of making smart investments in pharmaceutical services.

The report stresses the importance of a chief pharmacy executive role to focus on such areas as:

  • Ensuring that pharmacy services align with institutional goals
  • Generating maximum revenue from pharmacy businesses
  • Working with other organization leaders to lower the percentage of readmissions and total costs of care
  • Overseeing IT and robotics investments for pharmacy operations

Future Leaders in the Medical Device Industry

Technology, innovation and regulation reign over the current state of the medical device industry and its view of the future.

Kalorama Information, part of MarketResearch.com, details in Becker’s Hospital Review these areas as the year’s most important:

1. Innovative new devices

The typical device maker allocates 7% of its revenue toward research and development, above the average level of many industries.

2. Cybersecurity concerns

With more and more reliance on the cloud and reporting online, companies find themselves at greater risk to hackers and criminal activity, including ransomware.

3. Wearable devices

The market for wearables climbed to over $13.2 billion in 2016 and the report suggests that revenue growth should double the overall device market this year.

4. Regulations and fees

Developments with the federal government over Medical Device User Fee Agreements, FDA regulatory processes, and other matters involving rules and taxes continue to weigh on executives.

The leaders of tomorrow need to be knowledgeableexperienced and flexible to navigate these emerging issues within the medical device community.

About USC's Executive MHA Online Degree

An Executive MHA Program brings together mid-career professionals from across the healthcare industry to accelerate their executive careers.

With theoretical and practical lessons, challenging coursework, real-world experiences, and a collaborative learning environment within a network of sophisticated, professional colleagues, USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy's, Executive MHA program provides the resources needed to advance careers.

Written by Frank Farrar