September 14, 2014 – According to the Coalition of Bioscience Institutes’ Life Sciences Workforce Trends Report 2014, national employment in the U.S. life sciences industry totaled 1.62 million last year spanning over 73,000 companies. Life sciences, which comprises the fields of science that involve the scientific study of living organisms as well as related considerations like bioethics, is flourishing – and with it a wave of hiring at life sciences companies is underway. The thirst for qualified senior and C-suite professionals has created a boom time for recruiters, especially long-term specialists that maintain deep networks of skilled game-changers.
Sitting at the epicenter of this hiring wave is Los Angeles-headquartered Bench International, with offices situated throughout the U.S., Europe and Australia, founded and led by Denise (DeeDee) DeMan. Ranked as the 25th largest U.S. search firm by Hunt Scanlon Media, Bench was one of the first search firms to set up shop as a life sciences specialist in the 1970s and, in recent years, has placed some of the more prominent senior management into companies that have been strategically expanding.
A New Path Forward
One example is Baxter International’s endeavor to spin out Baxter BioScience to create Baxalta, a future public offering that will likely be the largest Biologics IPO in the industry to date. On behalf of Baxter (Baxalta), Bench recruited Ludwig Hantson, Ph.D., to the CEO post, and then completed a series of important global head placements for Baxalta, including the heads of the Hemophilia Business Unit; Strategic Marketing; R&D; and Patient Safety organizations. “This business model is representative of the new age in industry; creating relationships with small and innovative research companies and guiding them toward successful development, where they can substantively respond to unmet patient need,” said Ms. DeMan. Another key assignment was Bench’s work for Sanofi where the firm recruited Dr. Anne Beal as the industry’s first global chief patient officer. Ms. DeMan points to this as a “key example of a pharma company’s deep commitment to the actions, not just the words ‘patient centricity’ – Dr. Beal serves Sanofi as ‘The Voice of the Patient.’”
Ms. DeMan’s route into the search profession was unusual. Having landed a job as a researcher for auditory pathology in the early 1970s, her career sputtered as the sector hit the skids during an economic downturn in 1974. The lack of funding for her research led her to identify a new professional path. Ms. DeMan subsequently met with a recruiter, a life sciences specialist, in order to find a new path forward. Her suggestion to Ms. DeMan – join our firm as a recruiter. After briefly thinking it over, Ms. DeMan accepted the job.
Through an odd series of events, the firm’s original investors handed the reins of the organization to the inexperienced Ms. DeMan. Although just 22 at the time she began to build the foundation of what is today known as Bench International. Her first series of assignments were to help pharma and chemical companies which, in the mid-1970s, were developing post-doctoral programs in an effort to attract young people into the life sciences and healthcare industry.
Today, Bench International is flourishing at a very different level of corporate client engagements, from board searches and C-level executives, to experts who are able to lead every element of the life science spectrum. Ms. DeMan has built a global team of 30, including 16 seasoned executive search professionals, several of whom are former industry leaders, as well as others who are search experts with decades of recruiting experience. Bench maintains an industry-unique model, eliminating internally competing offices, with a company ethic of ‘One Team, One Budget, No Boarders, No Boundaries.’ Bench’s clients range from small venture backed and/or virtual companies, to specialized, high growth companies (Questor, Regeneron), to large pharma and healthcare companies (Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter International). Bench’s business model and the quality of its work is paying off. Last year Bench’s revenues jumped 8.6 percent to $7.7 million.