Which professional profiles a CDMO company looks for and how it grows talent
We spoke about talent and HR priorities with Joan Velez, director of human resources at the contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) specializing in small molecule APIs and intermediates AGC Pharma Chemicals and associate professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona in the master’s degree course in human resource management, who has over 30 years’ experience in people management and talent selection.
- What is the mission of the HR department of AGC Pharma Chemicals? What are your corporate values?
The mission of our HR department is to support the strategic objectives and challenges of AGC Pharma Chemicals, promoting a work environment characterized by fair treatment of personnel, open communications, personal responsibility, trust and mutual respect, addressing both the needs of people and the organization.
Our corporate values are innovation and excellence, diversity, environment and integrity. Additionally, customer orientation (we work hard to understand the customer and meet their needs), challenges (we challenge ourselves to get better results and achieve our goals) and flexibility (we quickly adapt our approach to deal with new situations successfully). By excellence we mean in both operations and the team.
- Which are the HR challenges of a CDMO?
In our case, the main challenge is to transfer to all the people in the organization the required culture to achieve our vision: to be the first CDMO option in Europe. We have ceased to be a mere production center with a single client to become, since 2019, a company that develops and produces pharmaceutical active ingredients and intermediates for different clients. This change means greater customer orientation and flexibility, to adapt to the different needs of each one of them. This is why we have launched a cultural change project with different actions identified to be developed until the year 2025. This project is supported by the following drivers toward change: communication, leadership, organization, decision-making and new procedures in people management.
- How would you define the AGC Pharma Chemicals team?
It is a team committed to the company and its strategic objectives, highly professional and motivated, who know that the future of the company depends on achieving our vision. It is a well-organized, confident team that knows how to communicate and interact with each other… All of this facilitates the resolution of challenges that arise or that we take on.
- What kind of profiles do you usually look for?
We are always looking for flexible professionals, geared to client needs and results. They should be people who are enthusiastic, who like challenges, teamwork and want to develop in a growing industry with future potential.
- AGC Pharma Chemicals is clearly committed to talent. How do you manage find suitable profiles, how do you attract them and how do you help them grow? What is the main challenge in this regard?
It is true that it is a challenge to attract and retain talent, but it helps a lot to have an interesting project like ours, which implies development and growth, in an industry like the chemical-pharmaceutical industry. However, we also carry out actions in this sense; among others, to have continuous contact with vocational training centers and universities to collaborate with them by accepting students for work placements. We also participate in business forums organized by universities, where we present our company and its career prospects. We have just launched our fast track program for recent graduates in which they spend two years working in all the departments of the operations area and at the end of which they will be able to cover any vacancies we have. Last year we started the dual training program, which allows us to take on students who are combining their studies with work in our company.
- What would you recommend to a young person who wants to work in the chemical-pharmaceutical industry?
First of all, I would suggest they gear their studies toward the chemical industry, whether a vocational course or undergraduate degree. Secondly, if they have the opportunity, I would encourage them to combine studies with a work placement in companies in the industry. They will be able to see for themselves what working for the company is really like and have a clearer idea of their career path. Last but not least, I would suggest a positive attitude, a sense of responsibility and good teamworking skills.
- What company initiatives would you highlight in terms of DE&I? What about other CSR measures?
As I said, one of our corporate values is diversity. AGC Pharma Chemicals has a four-year equality plan in place, negotiated with the representation of the workers, which includes all the actions to be rolled out in that time. At the end of the four years, a new plan will be renegotiated. AGC Pharma Chemicals has an equality commission that meets every two months to monitor the equality plan.
We have a social contribution policy in which we have established four priority lines of action:
- Local communities
- Future generations
- The environment
Through our social responsibility activities, we contribute to improving the lives and environment of people.
We allocate an annual budget to the activities we carry out with different entities. We are also open to new initiatives proposed by collaborators.