The need for disruptive talent in the HealthTech industry

26 Sep 2014

The need for disruptive talent in the HealthTech industry

In the classroom, students labelled “disruptive” or “talented” would lie at opposite ends of the spectrum in respect to their ability to succeed. In business, they are often one and the same. The injection of ‘disruptive talent’ is becoming increasingly prevalent within the HealthTech industry as boards look to bring in specialised skill sets for both short and extended periods to help rejuvenate stalled or failing projects.

The role of disruptive talent

Churchill once said, “I am always ready to learn, although sometimes I don’t like to be taught.” For entrepreneurs in particular, this can often be quite fitting. From conception to development, growing an innovative business idea is like raising a child and, similarly, acknowledging when you’re not succeeding is a difficult task. Years in the making, product development can lose traction; business plans can run off course and ultimately come to a standstill. Entrepreneurs are sometimes reluctant to step back from the project and are unlikely to hand the reins to someone else, despite the prospect of getting back on track. Yet accepting guidance could prove the difference between a business failing or achieving its objectives – perhaps through a refined business model, secured funding grants or successful launch.

Placing disruptive talent into the equation can often provide this necessary breakthrough. The strategy sees an expert individual placed into the business on either a short term contract or permanent but flexible basis, during which time they are empowered to make swift and radical changes designed to reignite the business and navigate a course toward success.

The benefit to the HealthTech industry

The HealthTech industry is dominated by businesses racing to bring new and innovative ideas to market. In a landscape of fierce competition, a stalled project could quickly become mothballed and see years of hard work count for nothing. Avoiding stagnation is essential and acknowledging the necessity for a shakeup of accepted norms can help ensure a lull is followed by a revival.

However, despite the increasing importance of these roles, finding the right person to fill them is a highly specialised process. Being able to provide emotional detachment to the process, match candidates skill sets to highly complex problems and navigating internal politics during incredibly high pressured periods requires both deep industry experience and an ability to find the right person for the role.

Claire Skentelbery, Secretary General at the European Biotechnology Network commented,

“Life sciences provides a perfect example of such difficult search – a scientist’s greatest talent is also their Achilles heel – a devotion to their science and the operational framework of the organisation type from which they have come (university, SME, large company).  It is rare to find that disruptive person who can take a step back and review will a cool eye and long term thought process.  The usual way to achieve such disruption is through collaborative research beyond your comfort zone – suddenly new many new eyes reviewing and planning how specific science can be shaken up and moved into a new era. But the question remains, how do you find that input for your own organisation or from a single person?”

Introducing disruptive talent has the potential to be an unpopular course of action. It is essential that this strategy is carried out through carefully managed internal procedures which protect both the business and its recruit. The nature of work means that sometimes the talent needs to be divorced from day-to-day operations meaning it may be necessary to prepare boards for ‘unconventional’ approaches and flexible working. Again, the value added by employing the right search specialists to provide these services is vital. 

These roles often represent a significant opportunity for candidates. Short term contracts are lucrative, offer flexibility and enable fast career progression. In our experience we often find that highly qualified women are able to fit roles such as this around building a family and developing their portfolio. As the interest in these roles increases, it becomes even more necessary to go through strict procedures to ensure quality is never sacrificed.

“It is the perfect opportunity for a more balanced life sciences sector, moving slowly away from the ‘chained to the desk/bench’ mentality that has excluded so much talent in the past, to the detriment of the European economy.  This works for both men and women and can bring life to policy moves towards equality of childcare” writes Claire Skentelbery.

Our HealthTech team is dedicated to identifying these individuals who are looking to drive the businesses we work with. We’ll continue to look at how to develop the strongest senior teams possible in the coming months and would be interested to hear your own thoughts and opinions as the sector accelerates