With increase in competition and
corporatization in the biotech space, HR heads are now on the look out
for hiring not just good but the best young talent available in the
country. BioSpectrum takes a look at some of the recruitment processes
adopted by prominent biotech companies in India
The success behind every company stems not just from its
middle and senior management employees, but from a large section
of its Generation-Y populace, the ‘young turks’ as they are often
referred to, who bring with them not just the technical expertise and
much-needed vigor, vibrancy and creativity.
HR heads from the life sciences industries have realized that a radical
transformation within their respective organizations can be attained
only by hiring ‘not quantity but quality freshers’. They look for not
just good performers but great performers. It is interesting to note
that many companies in the life sciences space have gone the innovative
way as far as talent acquisition is concerned.
Indian CRAMS player, Jubiliant Drug Discovery and Development, follows
a stringent process for selecting the talent pool that covers every
aspect of technical knowledge and behavioral attributes. To ensure that
they are making the right choices, the HR team initiates an interview
process that spans for over two days and the aspirants are required to
undergo various rounds of scientific and behavioral evaluation. Though
the scientific interviews are straight-forward, the behavioral
interviews test the rigor and mettle of each aspirant.
Kankana Barua, vice president and global head – HR, Jubilant Drug
Discovery and Development (DDDS), says, “Jubilant uses a culture
fitment tool to ensure that each aspirant meets the threshold criteria
to ensure a faster and smoother assimilation into the system of the
organization. Jubilant has been actively involved in attracting talent
from the renowned institutions across the country and is leveraging its
presence in Noida and Bangalore to build deep relationships with
premier institutes located in Northern and Southern parts of India in
the scientific streams like chemistry, biotechnology and microbiology,
clinical research, and pharmaceutical sciences.”
Rammesh Patiil, HR head, Serum Institute of India, says, “Pune is the
educational hub of the country and meets 75 percent of our demands.
Some of the colleges we visit include, DY Patil, College of Pharmacy
and College of Engineering.”
KV Subramaniam, president, Reliance Life Sciences, says, “Reliance Life
Sciences provides young students with an opportunity to become part of
the organization, on successful completion of the Advanced Diploma
Programs conducted by our not-for-profit institution, Reliance
Institute of Life Sciences.”
New Delhi-based Panacea Biotec visits campuses such as Punjab
University, Guru Nanak Dev University, and Indian Institute of
Packaging. Nuziveedu Seeds hires approximately 25 trainees every year
and campuses of its focus are Osmania University, Andhra University,
Badruka College, and National Institute of Agricultural Extension
Hyderabad-based Indian Immunologicals prefers to visit campuses across
the country for scouting young talent. Similarly, the team at Eli Lilly
travels across the country and recruits around 80 employees every year
from premier pharmacy colleges and management institutes.
Biotech companies now visit both technical-oriented colleges and
universities and also started visiting some of the premier management
institutes in the country like the Indian Institute of Management (IIM)
and Indian School of Business (ISB). “Agriculture is an upcoming sector
in the country.
Rural India is on the strategy cards for most of the companies. Plus,
students these days look for challenging roles that will lead to better
growth,” shares Atul Sharma, head – HR, Monsanto India.
Sharma also believes that the MNC tag also helps in attracting talent
due to the global opportunities that the company has to offer to the
youngsters in terms of overseas placements and exchange programs.
Monsanto in India primarily recruits Agriculture MBAs for
sales-related roles via campuses such as SIIB, MANAGE, NIAM and XIM-B.
The company is also connected with agri universities like GB Pant
University of Agriculture and Technology, Punjab Agricultural
University, and GKVK-Bangalore.
Biocon does campus interviews for both technical and managerial
positions. Biocon focuses on technical campuses such as IIT; BITS,
Pilani; NIPER; and UICT; and management campuses like ISB, IIM
Kolkata and XLRI.
Domain-specific technical expertise is a criteria that HR heads look
for in a post-graduate student during campus placements.
Commenting on this, Patiil says, “We require a lot of
freshers from the technical field especially for our R&D
department. We look at clarity and strong foundation in basic technical
concepts in students.” Every year, Serum hires around 80-100
Reliance Life Sciences follows a similar route. “We look at excellent
academic track record, sound conceptual knowledge in the relevant
domain and good analytical and communication skills,” says
Technical expertise and managerial skills should also be
counterbalanced with high energy levels and enthusiasm, passion, right
attitude, motivation, learning agility, communication skills, customer
focus, drive for results and team spirit. Ravi C Dasgupta, group
head—HR, Biocon, says, “At premier institutes one can take technical
abilities as given. What we look for really is the right attitude and
candidates with strong analytical, interpersonal and communication
While recruiting a prospective candidate, vaccine major, Panacea
Biotec, has divided its competency evaluation into two categories:
manager and below positions (E-6-E-8 grades) and senior manager and
above positions (E-5 and above grades). The HR team looks for a fresher
with a performance focus, customer focus, creativity, strong
communication skills and team work skills.
Kallol Chakraborty, vice president – HR, Panacea Biotec, “In addition
to all other skill sets, we also look at personality, family
background, attitude/traits, domain knowledge, analytical abilities and
In India, the global agri-major, Monsanto look for freshers who are
open to taking up cross functional challenges in the future.
Sharma says, “We look for individuals with educational and technical
skills; in addition to entrepreneurial skills, creativity, and
team-orientation. The candidate should be capable of stimulating
cross-functional challenges, and should also demonstrate the right
A fresher might be given a particular function at the time of hiring
but gradually as he grows in the company he might be given another job
function. Hence a student should be open to such added
Life sciences being a knowledge and technical-driven industry, students
are put through vigorous technical interview rounds, be it for
companies in the biopharma, bio-agri or the CRAMS space. In addition to
this, companies also evaluate behavioral skills and basic personality
traits of a candidate. Monsanto India, has devised an interesting
methodology. Sharma says, “Monsanto India has a behavioral interview
assessment kit that provides behavior event interview questions as
probes for the panel to understand the candidate in terms of values,
respect, courage and business acumen. The panel usually comprises more
than three interviewers who interact with the candidate to ensure the
right cultural and functional fit.”
Some companies are also adopting psychometric tests in its
methodologies. Mahyco’s HR team has developed competency mapping,
attitude tests and will introduce psychometric tests. Commenting on
this, L Gaekwad, vice president – HR, Mahyco, says, “We have identified
six competencies and we gauge competencies at two levels, one at the
organizational level and other at the individual level.”
Eli Lilly evaluates a candidate’s aptitude towards a job responsibility
through Thomas Profiling. Under this, an interviewee has to tick the
relevant answers on a questionnaire, a process that takes about 10
minutes. Based on the answers the strengths, skills, emotions and
weaknesses of a person is evaluated. The results analyze individual’s
skills and hints at whether the person is suitable for the specified
job. “This apart, we also look at aspiration clarity, career and
motivation perception, integrity and values, and persuasiveness,” says
Sameer Bhariok, director – HR, Eli Lilly.
Above all, companies look at the stability factor in students. HR heads
unanimously opined that today, the average work term of a fresher in
one company ranges anywhere between 2-5 years. After getting the
requisite years of job experience, freshers either opt for pursuing
their higher studies or move on to greener pastures. “We ask candidates
upfront during the interview about their long-term plans to gauge their
stability factor and surprisingly many of them have been upfront about
their long-term plans,” adds Sharma.
supply right talent?
|Serum Institute of India
Giving practical exposure to students is the dire need of the hour,
claim industry experts. Subramaniam says, “A large number of
universities and institutions have, over the last few years, introduced
several programs in biotechnology and pharmaceutical domains to meet
the growing talent requirements of the pharma and biotech industry.
However, the curriculum lags behind in providing practical exposure to
Keeping this point in mind, Reliance Institute of Life Sciences aims to
bridge this gap and equip students by providing them an insight into
cutting-edge developments in the field of science and technology
through an experienced faculty from the industry and a world-class set
up at Dhirubhai Ambani Life Sciences Center, Mumbai.
“There needs to be more emphasis on developing industry-relevant
skills. Key gaps are felt in areas like bioprocess engineering and
bioanalytical skills for biologicals,” observes Dasgupta.
Another school of experts believe that the trend is gradually changing
for the better. “The trend is improving and encouraging.
University curriculum constantly need to adapt with the changing
environment, and when it lags, it indirectly puts pressure on the
organization to provide fresh candidates with on-job training,” adds
In a nutshell, building strong knowledge foundation is what matters.
“We invest our time in training these freshers and after six months,
they give in good results. So, we cannot blame the university system of
education,” concludes Patiil.
Nayantara Som Inputs: Rahul Koul &
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