Emerging Markets and Global Strategy within the Pharmaceutical World

Article By
Saran Badwal
Saran Badwal
Posted On12th March 2024

Emerging markets present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for pharmaceutical companies looking to expand their global footprint.

When it comes to crafting a global strategy, the HR aspect can’t be overlooked—after all, your people are your most valuable asset.

With rapidly growing populations, increasing healthcare needs, and evolving regulatory landscapes, these regions offer significant growth potential. However, success requires a nuanced understanding of local markets, regulations, and patient needs. As well as a strategic approach to partnerships and market entry.

So, let’s chat about how companies can find and nurture talent in these vibrant markets, peppered with real-life insights from industry giants.

The HR Focus: Understanding the Terrain

Emerging markets are bursting with potential, but they also come with their unique set of HR challenges. Finding the right talent in these markets can often feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Why? Well, there’s the obvious language barrier, cultural nuances, and sometimes, a stark difference in professional qualifications and expectations.

For instance, in many emerging markets, the talent pool for highly specialized roles in the pharmaceutical sector might be limited due to fewer individuals having access to the necessary education and training. Then there’s the cultural fit—how well will the new hires align with your company’s ethos and work style?

Overcoming the Talent Challenge

So, how do pharma giants tackle these issues? Let’s take a leaf out of Novartis’s book. Novartis faced significant challenges in hiring talent for their operations in China, a key emerging market. They realised early on that to succeed, they needed to go beyond the traditional recruitment strategies. Their approach? A mix of local insight and global expertise.

Novartis invested in developing strong relationships with local universities and research institutions to tap into the budding talent pool directly. They also focused on offering extensive training programs to bridge the skills gap, ensuring that their new hires were not just competent but also aligned with the company’s global standards and values.

Moreover, to tackle the cultural fit challenge, Novartis implemented mentorship programs where new employees from emerging markets were paired with seasoned professionals from their global network. This not only facilitated smoother cultural integration but also helped in building a cohesive global team ethos.

Novartis Case Study Reference as documented by Accenture:

Life Sciences Digital Transformation | Novartis Case Study | Accenture

Other Speed Bumps

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Beyond hiring, companies often face challenges in retaining talent. In vibrant, fast-paced emerging markets, competition for skilled professionals is fierce. Companies need to offer compelling reasons for employees to stay, beyond just a paycheck. This could mean career development opportunities, a strong company culture, or meaningful work that makes a difference.

Building Partnerships and Collaborations

Partnerships with local businesses, governments, and healthcare providers are crucial for success in emerging markets. These collaborations can offer several advantages, including access to local distribution networks, insights into local market dynamics, and increased credibility with local stakeholders.

Joint ventures or partnerships with local pharmaceutical companies can be particularly effective, providing access to established manufacturing facilities and distribution networks. Collaborating with local healthcare providers and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can also help in understanding patient needs and behaviours, which is critical for market penetration and product adoption.

Embracing Digital Transformation within Emerging Markets

Digital technology is transforming healthcare delivery worldwide, and emerging markets are no exception. In many of these regions, digital platforms are leapfrogging traditional infrastructure, offering new ways to reach and engage patients. Telemedicine, mobile health apps, and digital marketing strategies can be powerful tools for pharmaceutical companies in these markets.

Digital platforms can also support education and awareness campaigns, which are often crucial in emerging markets where knowledge about certain diseases or treatments may be limited. These technologies offer scalable ways to improve healthcare outcomes and build brand loyalty among consumers and healthcare providers alike.

What Have We Learned?

Our dive into the HR complexities of operating in emerging markets reveals a rich tapestry of challenges and solutions. From the innovative strategies employed by Novartis in China to the universal hurdles of cultural integration and talent retention, it’s clear that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t cut it.

What stands out is the necessity of a tailored, culturally sensitive approach to HR in these markets. Building relationships with local institutions, investing in training and development, and fostering a global yet inclusive company culture seem to be key.

As we navigate these emerging landscapes, it becomes evident that understanding and embracing the local culture isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential. It’s about building bridges, not just expanding footprints. And at the heart of it all? A focus on the people who make global expansion possible. Here’s to finding, hiring, and nurturing the talent that will drive success in the dynamic markets of tomorrow.


At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework
please get in touch with our Managing Director, James Cumming.

Please visit our website to see more of our knowledge hub: https://refind.co.uk/

Recent Posts

How to ‘Flex Work’ in the Pharmaceutical Industry?

read more

Women Leading the Way in Aviation

read more

HR Transformation: Everything You Need to Know

read more

subscribe to our blog

Join our members list
to receive the latest insights.

    Enter Your Email