US Life Sciences CEOs Upbeat About Industry’s Prospects

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A KPMG survey reveals that approximately 84% of pharma and medical device executives plan to add jobs in next 12 months.

CEOs of life sciences business were confident about their prospects for growth in the pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device sector during the next three years and approximately 84% plan to hire in the next 12 months, according to KPMG LLP’s U.S. CEO Outlook 2016. In addition, the executives were more optimistic about their own sector than their peers in other industries and plan investments over the next three years.

The top three areas where life sciences CEOs plan to “devote significant investment/resources” in the next three years include expanding facilities (32%), advertising and marketing (32%) and measurement and analysis of the customer (26%).    

During the next three years, 76% of life sciences CEOs said they plan to expand headcount between 6–10%. None of the life sciences CEOs surveyed anticipate cutting jobs in the next three years; and 11% found they were likely to expand headcount by more than 10%, the survey found.  

“Most of the opportunities appear to be aimed at the sales, technical and scientific positions,” Little said. “Many administrative and back office functions have been through wrenching changes to become more efficient, leaving fewer opportunities than those in research & development, manufacturing, IT and customer facing positions, such as sales.”

New customers were seen as the biggest driver of growth during the next three years, according to 37% of CEOs surveyed. Another 29% viewed new products as the biggest growth driver, the survey said.  


“CEOs by their very nature tend to be optimistic people and the industry is coming to terms with its challenges,” said Alison Little, advisory leader for life sciences at KPMG in an Aug. 10, 2016 press statement announcing the survey results. “Drug makers are much better positioned than they were five-to-eight years ago when sales of many blockbuster medications were evaporating from cheaper, generic versions entering the market. Product pipelines are much stronger now and many of the drug makers have merged or focused their product portfolios.”

CEOs did express some concerns; competition, an inability to increase market share, and the inability to stay on top of new products/services and technologies are among the biggest issues, the survey said. 

With the optimistic outlook for the industry, many life sciences organizations are expecting their businesses to transform. Only 45% of CEOs said their companies “will be largely the same firm we are today” compared with the 61% of CEOs surveyed overall. 

Source: KPMG LLP