Client Case Study

Case study: Helping a cell & gene therapy start-up 10x their headcount

The situationDuring a candidate check-in, one of our previous candidates informed us he’d joined an upcoming clinical stage cell and gene therapy company that had developed new labs. They were a small team of 5 people and needed to bulk hire GMP technician and production scientist for a bulk project. As a small team in a highly competitive industry, they struggled with the resources and reach to attract top candidates with the required skillsets. Based on our previous relationship with the senior vice president, we arranged a site visit to discuss how Hobson Prior could help them increase their headcount.Hobson Prior solution At the initial meeting, we identified the – Basically, found out as much as we could about the company and the project they were working on, so we could best represent them to the talent in the industry. As well as agree a budget and timescale – from this we tailored a recruitment package to suit them. We utilised our international candidate pools of pre-screened candidates with the required skillsets. Our technical operations recruitment team spoke to these candidates to ensure they were appropriately skilled, available and to ensure they were engaged and excited by the opportunity to join the project. We were quickly able to source a list of 20 candidates that would be suitable for the role. As resources and time were key areas of concern for the company, we suggested using our digital interview system, HireVue, to give them more control over the initial stages of interview review. Each of the 20 submitted candidates completed a video interview that could be quickly and simply reviewed by the company to ensure we maximised their time. From these 20, 10 were taken into a final face-to -face interview.The resultWithin 6 weeks, we had sourced, screened and placed 8 candidates. 9 out of the 10 final interviews were offered jobs and we have been working with this cell and gene therapy company since. Their team has grown from 5 members to over 50, with Hobson Prior responsible for the pre-screen checks, gathering references and on-boarding for half of these new hires. In fact, the last 4 placements made by Hobson Prior were for a team reporting into one of the original 8 we helped place. We are proud to be a trusted part in this innovative company’s rapid growth as the continue to research ground-breaking developments in the life sciences industry. 

Case Study: Sourcing a validation team to meet a tight deadline

The situationOur client, a growing biopharmaceutical company with sites across the UK and Europe were looking to develop one of their site’s manufacturing capabilities due a large increase on sales from the previous year. They were given the task to construct a new facility, install new equipment and develop current MP processes within a 12-month period, giving them extremely limited time to complete projects. The challenges they faced were recruiting Validation individuals who had Marchensi and SEA vision equipment experience, along with general CQV and Serialisation knowledge. As SEA vision is considered niche within this market, they had struggled to find candidates for the roles. Given the tight deadline, getting the validation work started was a priority. Hobson Prior solution Having struggled to source the correct type of candidates themselves, it was key that we understood precisely what they were looking for in validation professionals. We met with the key stakeholders on site to ensure we understood their requirements and company culture, as well as develop an immediate strategy to focus on priority sourcing candidates. Based on this meeting, we completed a 48-hour search and successfully provided 5 validation contractors with direct experience and expertise in Marchensi SEA vision. This allowed the key stakeholders to focus on the new facility while the contractors ensured the priority validation work was covered. We continued to source by identifying companies using this specific equipment, enabling us to utilise our network of validation professionals to headhunt experienced candidates in similar roles. The resultWe successfully recruited 100% of the required positions needed in the 12 months. All the workers completed their contracts and one was even taken on in a permanent capacity. Due to the speed at which the contractors were sourced, the site’s validation teams successfully implemented the validation life cycle and the product sales continued to rise following successful GMP. We continue to work with this biopharmaceutical company in their UK and EU teams as their exclusive recruitment partner. 

Case Study: Helping our clients set up facilities in Europe to help combat Brexit

The situation One of our global pharmaceutical clients based in the UK contacted us for our support on a specific European project. At the time, they manufactured their products outside of Europe, completed QP release in the UK before distributing throughout Europe. 65% of their products were distributed throughout Europe – In the event of Brexit, all products released in the UK would potentially need to be rereleased when they cross the boarder into the EU. Understanding that this could potentially lead to them losing business to EU based companies, our client wanted to implement a proactive plan to combat future issues that could arise from Brexit. That solution was to open two sites in Europe, one QP office in Belgium to complete European QP release and a distribution centre based in Poland. Our client had specific plans in place with project milestones and headcount for each of those stages, But hadn’t ever hired anyone in Europe previously.  Hobson Prior solution Firstly, we gained a detailed briefing from the client on; the project plans, milestones, locations and why all these decisions had been made – This gave our team a great understanding of the business and project to allow us to sell it to candidates effectively. He then outlined to us more specifically about the hiring plans, he explained to us that this was a project that would run for roughly 2 years and he expected up to 40 new hires of both contract and permanent members of staff including consultancy support for things like validation. He explained the skill sets, level of experience, location, language skills, contract or permanent and what the expected hiring dates would be for each position. After digesting all of this information, our Quality team begun to proactively talent pool in the specific area’s he had mentioned – we initially started speaking with people inside our network that would consider opportunities in Europe. We then began a targeted approach of headhunting local talent to build our network in country, as we understood that this was where the main bulk of permanent hires would come from. We opted to conduct a lot of this work up front, so as each milestone was hit and new hires were required we already had a relevant shortlist of candidates.  The resultBecause of our team’s proactive approach, we were able to support our client fully with the delivery of their project, on time and under budget. We were successful in helping them hire 15 contract and 10 permanent employees across the two sites over the two year project. These positions were; 6 QA Officers, 4 QA Specialists, 2 QA Managers, 4 QPs, 3 RPs, 1 Head of Quality & 5 Senior QA Consultants. The client was impressed with our delivery within Quality in the early stages of this project, that they then worked with other managers in the business to give us access to other areas of the project. We went on to make successful contract and permanent placements within Regulatory, Technical Operations & Production. 

Case Study: Our networking abilities prove invaluable for global biotech

The situation Hobson Prior was contacted by the director of clinical operations at a global biopharmaceutical company based in Zurich. In urgent need of an experienced quality assurance consultant to assist with an imminent FDA inspection, he had exhausted his local network and local agencies had been unable to help. Our actions With the inspection two months away, the pressure was on; a negative FDA inspection can result in the suspension of an organisation’s manufacturing license. Immediately, our consultants began to contact their network of Switzerland-based candidates as well as Swiss candidates working elsewhere in Europe and candidates wiling to consider a move to Zurich. Whilst networking, we were given details of an individual with highly sought-after skills who was coming to the end of his contract. We spoke to him immediately, presented the opportunity and managed to secure his services at a rate that fell within budget. He was offered the position after a first interview and joined the client soon after. The result Over the following two months our candidate was instrumental in ensuring the FDA inspection had a positive outcome. Following the inspection he remained in post to implement the actions proposed by the FDA. So invaluable were his contributions he was offered a permanent position, which he accepted.

Case Study: Tailored interim solutions for international CRO organisation

The situation In 2013, one of the largest contract research organisations in the world won a major bid with a leading pharmaceutical company who wished to outsource a number of high profile projects. As a result, the head of statistical programming found himself with an urgent requirement for statistical programmers. An industry-wide shortage meant he was uncertain of how to source the headcount required. Although the client’s intention was to recruit permanent staff we contacted him advising to consider contractors. Together, we looked into the financial impact involved in contract staff; projected costs, as well as the impact of not having sufficient resources in place by project commencement. . Our actions With the client’s approval, we contacted relevant contractors within our extensive network with the ideal skillset and experience, ascertaining the interest and commitment from each. Our focus on relationship building meant that we already had a pool of strong candidates who’d expressed an interest in working with the company should a suitable opportunity arise. We were therefore able to submit a list of candidates, together with profiles, within three working days. The result The exact match in candidate skills allowed interviewing to start immediately and within two weeks, three candidates were hired and working. We managed the entire process, from interviews to offer. This contractor recruitment drive meant we approached our client’s with the right balance of permanent head-count and professional contractors. They had the correct resources in place to cope with the peaks in workload and outperformed many of their competitors. As a result we were highly recommended to their German office where we’ve filled every contract assignment we’ve been given. We are proud to have made a small but significant contribution to their strategy and success.

Case Study: Our headhunting skills secured rare candidates for an early-stage company

The situation As part of the expansion of its UK operation, our client required a Head of RA and a Head of QA for its central London site. The client specialises in advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMP). This area is highly competitive in the UK, as it has few high-calibre individuals compared with mainstream pharmaceutical industries. As such, a highly targeted approach was needed to secure the right talent for our client. Our actions We started by creating a shortlist of companies that focus within the ATMP area. Our consultants then identified individuals within those companies that matched our client’s role brief. We approached these professionals directly, generating phone-based engagement. Our consultants conducted detailed phone interviews to assess the suitability and commitment of each candidate, before submitting the top individuals for review by the client. Following this, we provided high-level support throughout the interview and offer process. The result As an early-stage company, our client was not a well-known brand in its market. As such, many candidates had not heard of the business before. However, we saw this as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, as we were in a position to shape people’s perceptions. Using our specialist knowledge of the sector, we educated candidates about the company and its exciting prospects. We successfully filled both top-level positions, with an average time-to-fill of eight weeks from role brief to accepted offer.

Case Study: How we secured a candidate with rare ATMP experience

The situation Our client, a small company focusing on Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs), needed to bring a new Regulatory Affairs Manager into their team. The ATMP arena is highly competitive in the UK, with few experienced candidates compared to mainstream pharmaceutical industries. In fact, our client had already tried recruiting for the position through in-house advertising and other recruitment agencies, but had struggled to find individuals with the relevant gene / cell therapy experience. Our actions We worked closely with our client to identify key skills needed for the position, and helped them develop a suitable offer by providing data on current market salaries. We then formulated a comprehensive recruitment strategy, designed to attract high-quality candidates within a relatively short timeframe. One of our Regulatory Staffing Specialists conducted thorough research of similar ATMP companies, and identified potential candidates working within them. He also consulted individuals within his extensive network in the biologics arena, who were able to recommend professionals suitable for the role. Finally, he used industry publications such as Regulatory Rapporteur to identify successful people within the ATMP field. Using the detailed specification that we developed with our client, our consultant drew up a shortlist of 15 individuals, who he then contacted at work. He was able to gain interest from several of the shortlisted people, and submitted them for interviews with the client. The result Using our headhunting skills and extensive network of industry contacts, we were able to source a number of suitable candidates well within the given timeframe. One of these individuals was offered the role, which they happily accepted. We received excellent feedback from the client, who was very impressed with our diligent and thoughtful approach.

Case Study: How we helped a client recover from a bad hire

The situation Our client, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, approached us for support after going through a particularly disheartening hiring experience. Having decided not to use a recruitment agency in order to cut hiring costs, the business had spent over five months searching for a suitable individual for its Clinical Project Manager role. After yet another month waiting out the successful candidate’s notice period, the client was finally able to on-board them. Unfortunately, just a few weeks in, it became apparent that their new employee was ill-suited to the role. The individual soon moved to another employer, and our client was back to square one. Almost seven months of work was down the drain. Furthermore, the company’s clinical team was really suffering from the lack of a CPM. The duties of the role were being half-fulfilled by employees with insufficient experience, who were understandably disgruntled by the extra work put on their plate. When the new hire didn’t work out, the client realised they needed to change tack – and quickly. Our actions At this point, our Clinical Team Manager James stepped in to help. Like all Hobson Prior consultants, James proactively builds and nurtures a talent pool of high-quality, passive candidates. By keeping in touch with them on a regular basis, he develops a thorough understanding of their skills and aspirations. As a result, James was able to immediately shortlist and contact several suitable candidates for our client’s CPM job. James discussed the opportunity in detail with his chosen candidates. He interviewed them rigorously about their suitability and interest in the role, ensuring that he only put forward those who would fully commit and succeed within the company. Since he had long-term relationships with each of the candidates, he already understood their character and background, enabling him to identify and challenge any weaknesses or risks. James submitted three select individuals to the client, and over the next two weeks he managed these candidates between interviews: answering their questions, gauging their interest and providing reassurance. This enabled the client to conduct a thorough two-stage interview process, without the worry of drop-outs. The result Just three weeks after they first approached us, the client hired one of our candidates. James supported the client and candidate throughout on-boarding, to ease the process and catch any potential issues before they developed. Once the candidate started her new job, James caught up with her on a weekly basis to ensure she was settling in well. Two years on, she’s still in the role and performing very well. With fees ranging from 20-35%, using a recruitment consultancy can seem like the expensive option. However, they say time is money – and had our client come to us first, we could have cut the time they spent searching for a CPM by 90%, not to mention finding them the right candidate first time. There are a number of ways you can protect yourself against making a bad hire; read about them in our advice blog How bad hires happen. Contact us to discuss how we can help you fill a current vacancy or prepare for future talent requirements.

Case Study: The ideal regulatory specialist for a global pharma company

The situation When an international pharmaceutical company required an interim Senior Regulatory Consultant to work on an RIM project, the hiring manager was referred to Hobson Prior by a colleague who had previously worked with us. Our actions The hiring manager had been searching for the right candidate for over a month, but with no success. Indeed, the requirements of the role were challenging – the candidate needed experience in a very specific document management system and project management tool. Yet, within a week, we successfully tracked down a UK-based Associate Director of Regulatory with two years’ experience in both. We were able to achieve this thanks to our extensive networks; our Regulatory Affairs consultant had conferred with a number of industry contacts to gain leads, resulting in a referral to our candidate. Furthermore, thanks to our long-standing relationship with the referee, we knew we could rely on their recommendation. We contacted the candidate to discuss the role in detail, and conducted a thorough screening over the phone to ensure that he not only had the right experience, but was also the right cultural fit for our client. Once we were satisfied that the individual would impress, we submitted his details and arranged a phone interview with the hiring manager. The result The client was delighted with our candidate, and thanks to our thorough screening, they were confident enough to offer him the job after just a 45-minute call. Our support didn’t stop there though: we provided the successful candidate with advice on starting the role and commuting, hired a management company to ensure tax compliance, and touched base with both candidate and client frequently to ensure a smooth transition. Having impressed the client with our resourcefulness and efficiency, we’ve gone on to place five more interim regulatory consultants with them in the same year.

Case Study: Using video interviews to fill six challenging technician roles

A client with unusual requirements A biotechnology company had six vacancies with an unusual requirement: it needed GMP technicians who could help develop a brand new manufacturing facility, before assuming standard technician responsibilities once the facility had been audited. On top of this, the vacancies presented several other challenges:  -  Candidates were required to have both ATMP and asceptic technique qualification experience, both of which can be hard to find  -  Candidates would need to be comfortable working in a class C cleanroom (which involves strict measures to prevent contamination, such as wearing protective garments)  -  Due to the time-sensitive nature of the development project, the technicians needed to be working within three months The strategy behind video interviewing We sent two senior consultants from our engineering and production team for an on-site meeting with the client. Here, we learnt more about the company’s direction and how the GMP technicians would fit into it. We then provided expert advice on process, job description and salary, using our market knowledge to create a robust strategy that would overcome the above challenges. Part of this strategy was to make use of our video interviewing capabilities via HireVue (a leading platform used by top brands such as Vodafone, Nike and Random House). We knew that HireVue would be four times as fast as phone interviews, helping us meet our client’s deadline without compromising on quality or quantity of candidates. Furthermore, being able to see body language would help us determine enthusiasm and drive, which were of great importance to our client. Twenty interviews in under seven hours Having defined the roles in detail, we provided the client with a comprehensive proposal outlining our search and screening methods. We also involved the client in designing the HireVue interview; on their request, we recorded custom questions with our in-house filming equipment. We started the search within our existing talent pools, which our recruitment consultants proactively develop and nurture. This enabled us to quickly shortlist several suitable candidates and generate referrals. We then identified leads within similar ATMP companies, using our advanced headhunting skills to reach these individuals by phone. By effectively communicating the unique selling points of the role – including the chance to gain rare, valuable experience of setting up a new facility – we were able to source five out of the six successful candidates via headhunting. In just over two weeks, we found twenty suitable candidates and got them to complete the HireVue interview. The client was able to watch and evaluate all twenty interviews in less than seven hours. In other words, we saved them 15 hours of work by using HireVue instead of phone interviews. Having received the client’s feedback via HireVue, we immediately produced a visual analysis of the scores to aid them in creating a shortlist. We then arranged face-to-face interviews for the nine shortlisted candidates. The on-site interviews took surprisingly little time. The client found they didn’t need a whole hour, since candidates had already answered their custom questions via HireVue. As such, the client was able to give each person a site tour; this was a huge benefit for both parties and really helped ensure a good cultural fit. Delivering excellent results The client was delighted with the quality of our candidates, and we were able to fill all six vacancies on schedule. But our support didn’t stop there: we obtained professional references and advised on on-boarding to ensure a smooth transition. Impressed with our ability to deliver results, the client immediately asked Hobson Prior to work on another role, this time for a QC Microbiologist. Once again, our recruitment consultants delivered an excellent service, submitting three candidates to interview and successfully filling the vacancy. You can learn more about our video interviews here. Alternatively, get in touch to discuss your recruitment needs with one of our specialists.

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