Goodall Brazier Logo Goodall Brazier Logo
Home / Blog /


What the rise of AI in drug discovery means for talent management in the pharmaceutical sector

17th October 2019 | Jacob Raddings

What the rise of AI in drug discovery means for talent management in the pharmaceutical sector

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming an increasingly intrinsic element of the drug discovery process in the pharmaceutical sector.

AI has the capability to think intelligently, just as humans do, to “extract concepts and relationships from data and learn independently from data patterns” but in a faster and more efficient manner that allows for accelerated drug discovery. This is an incredible strategic advantage in an industry where knowledge is power, and data drives discovery.

In reflection of the rapidly increasing influence of AI upon the pharmaceutical industry, Deloitte quotes that “the market for AI in the biopharma industry is expected to increase from US$198.3 million in 2018 to US$3.88 billion in 2025, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 52.9 per cent.”

While this is an incredible breakthrough in the use of AI technology in the pharmaceutical sector, it also poses an issue to how your pharmaceutical business should be adjusting its talent management strategy to address the technological shift. 

In biopharma, there has been an emerging trend to bring on talented chief digital officers, often from other industries, or chief digital information officers, in order to place digital thought leaders in the C-suite who understand how to utilise AI in the drug discovery process. 

Unfortunately, however, it’s not as easy as merely plucking such a leader from a wide selection of talented individuals. Sourcing talent that is highly skilled in both the theoretical side of the role and as a leader is notoriously difficult in this field. 

The reasons for this are that both the healthcare/pharmaceutical sector and AI are highly complex areas of study, and consequently, it is rare that the two fields collide in one talented individual, thus making these people all the more valuable when they are also competent and experienced leaders. 

The shortage of AI talent in the pharmaceutical sector is such that even “specialised AI-driven drug discovery companies cannot fill gaps of AI talent, with only 15.6% of their staff being AI-experts, on average.” according to a white-paper written by Deep Knowledge Analytics.

So what does this mean for talent management? 

When creating a talent management strategy for your pharmaceutical company, it is crucial for the future success and viability of the business that you consider leaders with an in-depth knowledge of AI and your specific sector. 

As these individuals are few and far between, it is imperative to the success of your recruitment efforts that you partner with a global executive search firm such as Goodall Brazier. 

The reason for this is that we have long-standing relationships with the very best talent in the pharmaceutical industry, this allows us to connect your business with exactly who you need to drive success and digital innovation based on your specific goals. 

Global search is key when searching for AI talent in pharmaceuticals. The US and the UK have the highest density of AI experts in the world currently, and due to the recent surge of AI talent in China, it is also essential to keep an eye on talent from this region, which means that restricting your talent search to your native geography could limit the calibre of the talent that you are able to recruit. 

To learn more about how Goodall Brazier can help your business harness the rise of AI in drug discovery through talent management, contact us today.