The Ins and Outs of Life Science Consulting, Defined by Specialists

The Ins and Outs of Life Science Consulting, Defined by Specialists

The Ins and Outs of Life Science Consulting, Defined by Specialists


Life sciences consultants typically are drawn to this {industry} due to the profound impact their work can have on individuals’s lives.

Nonetheless, as that is true of many various specialties, those that are fascinated about turning into a life science advisor must know precisely what to anticipate earlier than breaking into this area. 

The Ins and Outs of Life Science Consulting

A key differentiator of life science consulting is the chance to work throughout the broad spectrum of corporations and specialties inside a company to assist deal with challenges holistically. Profitable consultants sometimes mix scientific and enterprise intelligence and specialise in very particular areas. 

The tempo of innovation is unrelenting, and to succeed, a life science advisor should perceive these adjustments, their drivers and what’s more likely to come subsequent.

“As a advisor, you’re capable of look throughout a number of items of the life science universe, whereas [biopharmaceutical companies] have a really singular lens targeted, mainly, on their product,” Aaron Davis, senior managing director at Syneos Well being consulting group, instructed BioSpace.


That mentioned, particular person consultants typically specialise in particular areas, corresponding to reimbursement, regulation or communications. Some go into narrower niches, corresponding to growing market entry methods for oncology therapeutics. Nonetheless, they nonetheless want to pay attention to the larger image, to higher carry worth to all of the stakeholders.

Consulting corporations additionally could specialize. For instance, Kimberly Ha, founder and CEO of KKH Advisors, focuses on strategic communications consulting. “We advise corporations on learn how to talk successfully, to ensure messages are aligned with their enterprise technique and particular objectives. I work instantly with the CEOs, C-suite and generally the board, typically about learn how to assist launch an organization out of stealth mode, growing media visibility to assist increase financing and appeal to companions and expertise.”

Life sciences consulting isn’t proper for everybody. “It takes a sure sort of character,” Ha mentioned. “It’s important to be fascinated about problem-solving. I can assure that not at some point goes by after I don’t get a textual content or e mail asking me to resolve an issue or reply questions on a particular state of affairs.

“You even have to essentially like this {industry},” she added. “It’s hyper-focused and particular, so you must laser-focused on simply this one factor.” That’s maybe the largest distinction between consulting in life sciences and different industries. Generalist consultants lack the industry-specific information essential to be distinctive. Buying it requires studying the breaking science in addition to the {industry} information, understanding the traits and figuring out what’s taking place available in the market. In any other case, you may’t be efficient.

“It’s not a area in which you’ll be able to bounce out and do one thing [in another industry] for just a few years after which bounce again in as a result of the panorama can change in 12 months.”

Davis emphasised the unmet want in information evaluation.

“We’re awash in healthcare information,” Davis mentioned. “Our capability to see what is occurring within the healthcare system has improved considerably prior to now 10 to fifteen years, however our capability to make it actionable to drive drug improvement stays an enormous (alternative).”

“We work throughout a number of areas and you must use a number of totally different components of your mind day-after-day…analytical and inventive. It stretches you.”

Purchasers and Workload

Consulting is just not for the faint of coronary heart, Davis and Ha each mentioned.

The hours ebb and circulation a bit, however each start their days early. Working into the night isn’t unparalleled, significantly when shoppers are in a broad geographical space or when engaged on shoppers’ enterprise crises. Vaneet Sethi, principal with ZS, a world consultancy, mentioned working 45 to 55 hours per week is regular.

“What appears barely extra distinctive to the life sciences {industry} is that there could also be extra peaks and valleys than in different industries,” Sethi continued.

“For instance, This autumn – October to mid-December – appears to be intense.” Throughout this time, any cash remaining within the finances could also be spent creating “nice-to-have” initiatives. “On the flip aspect, the final two weeks of the 12 months are very sluggish, as a lot of the corporations are shut down. Equally, summer season hours – having Friday off each different week [at the client’s location] – appears extra frequent in life sciences than in different industries.”

Massive consulting corporations like Syneos sometimes count on their consultants to work with a number of shoppers concurrently. For Davis, the norm is to work on three to 4 engagements at a given time, both with one shopper or a number of. Along with direct shopper work, Davis, as a senior advisor, is also engaged within the enterprise improvement, thought management and outreach parts of the enterprise.

“As a advisor,” Ha mentioned, “you’re aware about your shoppers’ confidential data. You’re, primarily, embedded inside the firm.”

Work/Life Stability

Sustaining work/life steadiness is among the challenges consultants face within the life sciences.

“It’s very easy to not have a ‘cease’ mode,” Ha admitted. “There’s a unending amount of concepts you may pitch…so you must set some private guardrails for your self.” Purchasers usually honor that, until a disaster arises.

Davis, who is predicated on the West Coast, mentioned he sometimes begins work at 7:00 a.m. for European calls, adopted by East Coast shopper conferences, earlier than pivoting to inside venture work and outreach. His workday normally ends round 6:00 p.m.

Touring can also be rebounding after the pandemic. “It’s an important a part of the consulting way of life. Interacting with individuals is necessary,” Davis harassed. “Folks purchase our providers by means of belief and respect, and that’s born by means of relationships and dealing with individuals instantly, spending time with them.”

For these launching life science consultancies, Ha [who also mentors some new entrepreneurs] suggested care when choosing shoppers. “Work with corporations that align with your individual mission and imaginative and prescient. To me, proper now, that’s crucial factor, as a result of I can’t do my job successfully if I essentially don’t consider within the firm’s mission.”

Abilities and {Qualifications} Wanted

The tutorial {qualifications} essential to succeed as a advisor range by {industry} area of interest.  A Ph.D. typically isn’t wanted, though an MBA or PharmD is helpful. Davis, who holds an MBA, mentioned, “The hands-down greatest consultants I’ve ever labored with are normally those that have a mix of scientific and enterprise acumen.”

Expertise and {industry} information are necessary, too. Ha holds a BA in psychology however, earlier than founding KKH Advisors 5 years in the past, she was a senior director at FTI Consulting’s life sciences and healthcare capital markets group, the place she targeted on strategic communications.

Earlier than that, she was an investigative reporter for the Monetary Occasions in Hong Kong, previous to relocating to New York to launch enterprise intelligence merchandise targeted on the pharmaceutical {industry}.

Clearly, a background in science and math or different quantitative disciplines is useful, however, Sethi mentioned, “I’ve seen loads of consultants with different majors being extremely profitable within the life sciences.”

He mentioned crucial trait is to be intensely data-driven, much more so than in different industries, due to the scientific rigor required for medication to be accredited. “There is also a better bar from a authorized and moral perspective on what information might be marketed and what you may and can’t examine, so there may be an additional quantity of diligence wanted int this {industry}.”


Salaries of life sciences consultants range by specialty. experiences the typical pharmaceutical advisor wage at $70,310 within the US, with a spread between $46,329 and $78,663, however this displays compensation at small and enormous organizations all through the nation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics experiences an annual imply wage of $91,200 for all administration scientific and technical advisor providers and, for biologists, an annual imply wage of $98,260. Bonuses could improve the bottom pay considerably.

A search of particular person corporations, nonetheless, reveals a lot larger salaries. At FTI, for instance, the typical advisor compensation is $102,826 (vary: $83,000 to $128,000), and senior consultants common $128,689 (vary: $105,000 to $159,000).  At Syneos Well being, the typical annual advisor wage is $113,377 (vary: $90,000 to $144,000), of which practically $20,000 is within the type of a bonus.