The 22nd Leadership & Human Resource Management Conference - IMH

“We need to be able to learn new skills at a rate that was unprecedented for other generations. The critical skill to support this change, is the ability to change.”

We live in a country that has tradition very much at heart and you in a traditional industry; an industry that is highly regulated, has health & safety and quality as top priority. Nevertheless, tradition offers no protection from disruption; in fact, it may slow down vital transformation that is needed for growth, even survival. How is your organisation balancing the urgency to evolve and innovate with the need to ensure high safety standards, when recruiting and upskilling for a future fit workforce?

As a Company we always had to compete in the international arena as we export more than 90% of our capacity. Transformation and growth are part of our identity. Due to the small size of the Cypriot market and the lack of specialised pharma experienced professionals, it is rather difficult to recruit professionals with relevant pharma experience and skillset. At Medochemie, «we hire the character and train the skills». We recruit those who share our values and our important behaviours like growth mindset, teamwork and communication. We recruit people who share our vision for quality pharmaceutical products to every corner of the world.

Q: Imagine your organisation in 2033. What skills do you continue to have, what skills you no longer have and what new skills do you have?

We are always looking ahead for the technological and regulatory changes coming and we are able to acquire the technical skillset needed. AI would eventually take over some admin and repetitive tasks of our work so we would need to focus to skills where AI wouldn’t be able to support like creativity, critical thinking, curiosity, collaborating, and complex problem solving. Human skills like empathy, team working, leadership and communication will be even more critical so as to balance the interaction of technology with people.

Q: You have a very diverse workforce both in terms of skills as well as locations (2000 employees in 19 countries). Do you see any differences between Cyprus and other countries you are present at, in terms of skills gap challenges and employee growth & development?

I think that this is not a matter of a skills gap but rather difference in culture. Colleagues from other countries have of course more opportunities for more diverse experience but we cover this lack of technical skillset with extensive training. Our culture is more conservative as we are a bit more resistant to change and we tend to take feedback a bit more personal. We work this skillset through our performance management system. Growth Management and coaching are two of the four critical behaviours/skills that every colleague should consider every year to develop. We work with our colleagues to be open and flexible to change and to be open and ask for feedback that would help them to develop.

Q: Cyprus’ manufacturing sector is important and needs to be supported. What skills will be critical to ensure the resilience and growth of this industry?

We are all witnessing the fast rate that our industry and all industries are changing. Technology and to that AI, are reshaping the way we do work and the skillset needed to do it. We need to be able to learn new skills at a rate that was unprecedented for other generations. The critical skill to support this change is the skill to be able to change. Growth mindset is critical as people would need to be able to change, want to change and are prepared to change.
Self-Management, in terms of active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility are also critical skills to support this change on a personal level.
Our driving force is our performance management system. Through the balanced scorecard where grow as a mandatory objective drives the technical upskilling of each colleague. At the same time each colleague works and develops at least one critical behavioural skill, like growth mindset, coaching, team, and responsibility. We are also reskilling our managers to have better relations with their teams and better coaching skills in order to have better performance management conversations with their coachees. Our aim is to become better. This way we built the skills to ensure the resilience and growth of this industry.

Q: Is it time for a shift away from traditional recruitment practices that prioritise degrees over skills, and if so, how should HR adapt to this change?

Our regulatory framework requires, in a big percentage of our positions, to have a degree or high school certificate in order to prove at least a minimum background of understanding and academic knowledge. The degree itself though is not enough and cannot guarantee that hired professionals have the desired skillset to succeed in their role.
HR recruiters need to be able to Identify what skills we have and what skills we will need and to be able to recognise these skills during the recruiting process. We can built-in our interviews, hypothetical scenarios that would help us recognise these skills we need or use other tools like OPQs for important positions.