• Michael Zürcher

“The more firms there are, the more candidates move to Switzerland and the more attractive it gets"

In our Swizzard Champions series, Michael Zürcher, CEO of Swizzard Pharma AG, interviews experienced thought leaders from the world of pharma and biotech and shares their industry insights. First up is Susanne Rietiker, CEO of AurigaVision, a Swiss-based executive search & recruitment agency with international reach for clients operating in pharma, biotech, medtech, diagnostics and OTC segments.

Download our two-pager with a summary of Susanne’s key takeaways.

Swizzard_Summary Susanne Rietiker Key Takeaways
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Welcome, Susanne. You’ve been working in the executive search and recruitment market in Switzerland for more than 10 years now. Can you share some of the main changes you’re observing?

Thank you, Michael. Yes, I think one of the things that stands out is that Switzerland has become even more attractive with pharma and biotech players as a location for international headquarters. This has a positive “cluster” effect: the more companies there are, the more candidates move to Switzerland an

d the more attractive Switzerland becomes for new companies seeking to take advantage of this large talent pool.

One of the big trends right now is the strong shift toward more flexible work. Many employees work as contractors on limited contracts which are often renewed several times at the same company. Companies often prefer to work with recruitment and payroll suppliers who take care of searching for the candidate, contracting and payroll admin. Candidates feel less bound by companies and contracts. The

y often change position after just a year or two and look for new challenges. Or they go through the full interview process with a company and decide to decline the offer last minute when they receive a contract proposal. On the subject of flexibility, part-time work has become normal for everyone and at every level.

What are the main challenges for newly set up EU headquarters in the pharmaceutical/biotech industries?

Often we see that the US headquarters do not really understand Europe. They want to remain fully in charge for Europe. At the same time, the leader of the EU organization needs to deliver results, to build the organization in a very short time and to hire a team. Leaders need to push back to the US but in a way that is acceptable for the US teams. In-house recruiters are often US-based, especially in the starting phase. They don’t have the market contacts or in-depth know-how of the various relevant laws. It means a lot of time is lost getting up to speed. Getting an external recruitment agency involved accelerates the process – companies shouldn’t wait to get the ball rolling. Another

issue is the race for talent. Many headquarters are fighting for the same candidates. So it’s a real candidate-driven market, and this has an impact on increasing salaries and other benefits.

How can a candidate secure a great new position?

I think the first step is to prepare a well-structured CV with enough detail to explain past experience but not too long to make recruiters lose interest. I’d advise people to apply for positions that are a good next step but still within reason. Working with recruitment agencies can be beneficial, as the agency will pass on pre-selected dossiers only. It means you can be assured the company will look at your documents and the agency can personally explain candidate details to the per

son responsible at the company. I’d also add that honesty is the best policy throughout the interview process. There’s no point hiding not-so-favourable facts or trying to oversell – just be yourself. Finally, I recommend taking a long-term view and cultivating your network – usually people meet several times during their careers.

Finally, how can a company increase its chances of attracting and retaining good people?

People want flexibility and companies can respond to this need in various ways, for example by offering part-time work, increased number of vacation days or flexible remote work policies. Being fair when an employee leaves the company is always important. It’s a small industry and people talk.

Past employees are going to be either good or bad adverts for your future candidates depending on their experience with you as an employer. Last but not least, while people are working with you, give them prospects by outlining a career path and future development possibilities.

About AurigaVision

AurigaVision AG is a specialized executive search and recruitment agency focusing on the healthcare industry. Serving local and international companies in pharma, biotech, medical technology, diagnostic and OTC, AurigaVision recruits for all levels of positions in areas such as sales, marketing, medical, regulatory affairs, access, QA, supply chain and HR. The company also provides convenient payroll, interview training and general HR support services. AurigaVision is led by CEO Susanne Rietiker, a pharmacist with 20 years’ operational experience in the pharmaceutical industry. An experienced team of several Talent Acquisition Directors, HR Managers and HR Coordinators is supporting the clients in their business needs.


About Swizzard Pharma AG

Swizzard Pharma AG is a provider of support services for biotech and pharma companies in Switzerland. As part of the company’s mission to enable healthy lives in Switzerland, Swizzard helps clients maximize the value of their breakthroughs in the Swiss market. Swizzard offers a range of services, drawing on vast experience and exceptional connections to deliver fast and lean settle-in, market preparation and commercialization solutions. CEO of Swizzard is Michael Zürcher, an experienced general manager in the life sciences industry.