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Life Science

The Life Sciences industry has witnessed significant change over the last two centuries. Beginning in the mid-19th century, we adopted the modern hygiene practices that greatly diminished medical infections and improved overall survival rates. The second stage lasted for a greater part of the 20th century – the discovery and commercialization of drugs and devices. These products were essential in protecting us against numerous diseases, from smallpox and polio, to cancer and HIV.

third stage of evolution

Today, we are now entering a third stage of evolution within this industry whereby the change is driven not just by new products, but by behavior change. We are slowly moving towards a goal where more focus will be on gathering evidence to identify which interventions are most effective at improving our health, and then aligning the behaviors of all stakeholders around these interventions. This new trend is creating a shift in power from the providers and manufacturers, to the patients and payers.

This shift is particularly compelling for big pharma, which has been struggling with historical changes for some time now. Over the last several years, numerous forces – the patent cliff, reduced R&D productivity, pricing pressures, globalization, and demographics – have made the industry’s long-standing blockbuster business model increasingly irrelevant. These pressures have shifted the industry to one focused more on diversified market portfolios and broader focus on bottom-line returns (rather than just top-line growth). Today, as the power shifts over to the patient, who is both increasingly empowered and increasingly central to making personal decisions around his/her well-being, the industry is again shifting to a model where the pharma companies will need to engage meaningfully with their customers in open and transparent ways. These transformations can be best summarized as:

  • moving to an evidence-based, outcomes-focused, and behavior-driven world
  • addressing the growing challenge of chronic diseases
  • shifting from a treatment mindset to one of prevention
  • leveraging the information available in the patient world
  • progressing from a product-centric model to one that is customer-centric
  • focusing on a continuous relationship with patients rather than one-off transactions
  • changing the value proposition for the customer


Successful innovation requires strong leadership, commitment and solid decision-making. It also requires an open mind and the courage to experiment – both traits that are harder to find in companies where most of the management comes from the same mould. As a consequence it might be helpful to bring fresh blood into the top team. Hiring from a broader talent pool gives an organization access to new ways of thinking, ideas and methods, which help thrive in periods of change.


Our global Life Science practice

Ward Howell’s global Life Science practice offers a full range of leadership consulting, expert management and HR consultancy services. With our industry expertise and our experience in the Life Science sector, we fulfill the highest quality standards in the industry and support our clients in the following sectors:

  • Biotechnology
  • Healthcare Services
  • Medical Devices and Diagnostics
  • Pharmaceuticals


The in-depth knowledge of our global practice members' as well as their access to the world's leading Life Science talent, acquired during years of senior-level executive experience and networking in the Life Science sector, is the key to our, and thus your, success. Our consultants identify and evaluate board members, CEOs, and senior leadership employees, and conduct in-depth cultural assessment and corporate fit analyses for matching the client’s needs.