Boyden Executive Search

Boyden’s Aurea Imai shares insights on the local market for executive talent in healthcare and life sciences.

By Aurea Imai

A companion piece to Leadership Series, The Boyden View puts the spotlight on in-house experts from Boyden offices around the world, who share their perspectives on issues relevant to the current edition of Leadership Series.

For more detailed insights, read the full Leadership Series interview with Theo van der Loo, President of Bayer Brazil.


Aurea Imai is a Managing Partner of Boyden Brazil, and a key member of the firm’s Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Practice.

Boyden: With Brazil emerging from a period of economic decline, what is the outlook for senior executive talent, and will the market for talent tighten again?

Imai: The Brazilian market for senior executive talent has changed rapidly in recent months. Companies at the beginning of this year started hiring again. And in spite of the recession, the market for top talent in Brazil was already fairly tight. Most employed executives were reluctant to make professional moves, which is now changing.

Boyden: In terms of executive demand in healthcare and life sciences, what developments are you currently seeing in terms of subsector trends?

Imai: The service provider subsector is now developing at a much faster pace. Due to a change in local legislation, Brazilian healthcare services can now receive foreign investments, which are supporting new initiatives to meet the increasing demand for quality services in Brazil.

Boyden: What types of functional or sector roles are most in demand within healthcare and life sciences?

Imai: We are seeing higher demand for technical positions, related to regulatory and medical affairs, R&D and quality, and a decrease in marketing and sales positions. As a trend in the whole market, not only healthcare and life sciences, we are also seeing significant demand for roles within finance and control.

Boyden: Like Bayer, are Brazilian operations in other companies evolving in terms of opportunities for women and diversity candidates?

Imai: Not as much as I think they should. Multinational European and North American companies are very open to diversity, and some of these clients disclose their positive preferences regarding gender and race, aiming to create a diverse organisational environment. However, this drive is not clearly evidenced in most local companies, including larger ones, which have displayed more limited efforts.

Boyden: In terms of positions or functions, does Brazil have a stronger or weaker executive market compared to other regions, such as the U.S., Europe or Asia?

Imai: The Brazilian healthcare market is quite strong where pharmaceutical companies are concerned. Major global players have been active in Brazil for decades, and top executives have pursued careers in this industry. However, within the service provider market, there is still a gap to close in terms of management. Brazil has evolved quite quickly in technical and medical areas, but lags behind other markets in preparing professionals to lead complex organisations such as hospitals and other services.

Boyden: What are the biggest changes in healthcare and life sciences you expect to see in terms of management trends in the next few years?

Imai: In Brazil we´ve seen great changes in this sector in recent years. Many small players focused on generic and similar products have arrived in Brazil, and within the negative national economic and political scenario, companies have been changing their market approaches, aiming to increase competitiveness. In fact, some B2B companies have hired executives from the B2C market, with the goal of bringing consumer insights to their commercial strategies. The main challenge for management will be adapting new executives to different segments.

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