Human resources

A human resources (HR) career in a large pharmaceutical company can be a wonderful journey into a number of different roles and business areas each with similar yet distinct needs.

Business are as vary and include sales and marketing, consumer divisions, global manufacturing and supply, research and development (R&D) and the usual corporate divisions. Each of these areas is likely to be a hub for different cultures. For example, R&D has a culture focused on exploration, predominantly consisting of scientists and physicians seeking scientific opportunities to translate into medicines for the future. 

As an HR professional, you will find that the business needs impressed upon you may vary considerably in these respective areas. This enables you to experience fresh and exciting challenges if you move around the organisation, which in turn can present you with developmental opportunities and variety within the overall organisation. Responsibility comes early, so expect involvement with projects you can get your teeth into from day one. 

HR functions

Generally, an HR function consists of operations, strategy, communications, benefits, compensation, recruitment, systems and organisation and leadership development. If it is a global Pharmaceutical industry, global and transnational systems, standards, processes and services may be managed centrally and delivered locally allowing the Pharmaceutical industry to benefit from both excellence in service delivery and economies of scale. 

Working in HR

In a large company you are likely to specialise in one of the following areas: 

  • Strategy, operations and communications
  • Compensation and benefits 
  • Learning and development 
  • Recruitment 

People who work in HR 

There are different routes into HR. Usually, you would have a degree and a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification, with some experience in the relevant HR discipline. However, a career in HR can equally develop from an HR Administrator position, or via a sideways move from a scientific discipline with related management experience. A good starting point is to browse on the CIPD website (​) and to speak to their staff, as well as talking to someone in your HR team, if you are already working in an organisation.

Last modified: 20 September 2023

Last reviewed: 20 September 2023