“War On Talent” Heating Up in the Bay, Boehringer Ingelheim Exec Tells BioSpace

This article was originally published here
July 9, 2014

By Riley McDermid, BioSpace.com Breaking News Sr. Editor

Andrea Vinson is director of Human Resources for Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont. In her job she sees the best biotech and life sciences talent on offer in the Bay–and that’s taking its toll on some HR departments, she told BioSpace (DHX), as hiring heats up.

“We are also experiencing the outcome of the war on talent currently being felt by everyone in this business,” she said. “There are simply more jobs than available and qualified individuals.”

BI had just over 300 people working in Fremont, and around 47,000 employees worldwide. BioSpace chatted with Vinson about hiring trends and the heavy competition for talent in the Bay Area.

1. What hiring trends have you seen in 2015, and how have those changed or differed from last year?

Hiring in 2015 has already proven to be very challenging. This year has brought with it lots of opportunity in the Bay Area and with opportunity, employees have choices. We have seen an increase of employees moving between organizations for new or different opportunities.

In a year when our hiring is up, heavy competition for talent brings its challenges. Another trend that is on the rise in 2015 is the increased challenge of competitive offers. We are seeing candidates receive multiple offers at once, leaving them with more options which often puts the candidates on very strong footing for negotiations.

Sharing the wealth of our benefits and growth opportunities throughout the global Boehringer Ingelheim network remains key for securing the talent we desire. The really good news for candidates is that we are hiring!

Boehringer Ingelheim in Fremont has over 50 openings now with more openings planned later this year in areas ranging from Quality to Engineering to Process Science, and more.

2. What’s the number one thing you look for in a candidate?

At Boehringer Ingelheim, we are looking for talent who has the technical and professional expertise to excel, with a desire to learn and grow as the business grows. We’re part of a dynamic business where flexibility and agility are key to our success in serving our patients.

3. Walk us through your interview process—how it starts, how long it typically lasts, what you’re looking for when hiring.

It starts with our talent acquisition team reviewing resumes, scheduling initial phone screens and then moving to a phone call with a hiring manager and then an on-site interview. Depending on the role and level, a candidate may see 3-6 interviewers either 1:1 or through the use of an interview panel.

Interviews can range from 30-60 minutes each. In some of the more technical areas, we may even invite candidates to present data or findings to a larger group to showcase their scientific and presentation expertise. We are looking for candidates who best meet the job profile in terms of education, experience and enthusiasm for the role and use this process to ensure we find the best candidates possible.

4. What do you think makes an applicant stand out?

Top candidates are able to share their knowledge and experiences, drawing on relevant work examples to show how they work, while building good rapport with the interview team. They come prepared for the interview and are ready to ask the tough questions when given the opportunity.

5. How important is a “culture fit” for your company?

The key for us to be successful is to have a diverse workforce. Our challenge to hiring managers is to find individuals who complement the existing teams, who bring their own diverse perspectives and experiences to the table.

We welcome difference. Many companies expect employees to assimilate into the culture. At Boehringer Ingelheim, we value what each individual brings to the table, and encourage integration to continue strengthening our dynamic culture.

6. Where are you looking to add staff this year?

We will be focusing in particular on our Process Science area as we continue to drive innovation and science so we can continue to make more health for our patients and their families. In addition, there is also significant emphasis on manufacturing operations, engineering and quality. This is a year of growth and preparation for even greater growth in 2016. The outlook of our site is really promising and now is the time to join us and be part of this journey!

7. What makes BI Fremont an exciting place to come and work?

As one of the few privately held Biopharma companies in the Bay Area, Boehringer Ingelheim is special. Since we are not beholden to the quarterly profit cycle, we have the freedom to make longer term decisions that may be costly in the short run but better for our employees, our patients, or the environment (just to name a few).

As a result, we can do “what’s right” rather than bowing to the bottom line. In addition, the Fremont operation is among the smaller sites located in the East Bay which means that we have the opportunity to work closely with everyone here. This gives visibility and the opportunity to contribute for even our front line staff employees to exciting and innovative work.

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