People power: Talent matters for pharmaceuticals carve-out
For businesses to grow and develop, you need the right people in the right roles at the right time. Getting all of this to align is crucial, which is why Inflexion has a dedicated Talent Director to support portfolio companies.
The ‘right people’ is about recruitment and retention, while the ‘right roles’ is about ensuring the business is set up for growth and employees are sufficiently engaged. Howard Taylor knows this very well. Armed with an MA in Chemistry from Oxford, he cut his professional teeth at Procter & Gamble, spending many years in their prescription pharmaceuticals’ divisions before leading their Western European consumer health business in a JV. Their policy of promoting from within meant he’d not get promoted if he didn’t have the right people skills to get the best out of his own team.
This clearly left its mark; he is highly attuned to the importance of building a great team, saying
This sentiment is driving the success of Rosemont Pharmaceuticals, where he is CEO and which underwent a carve-out from its listed US parent in June 2020. “It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears, but also energising and motivating – and the journey had only just begun,” he recalls. “The first 12 months were incredibly productive but also very stressful. From the outside in, you see sales and profit growth of 35%, but beneath the surface, the swan is kicking a lot under water.”
His first priority was to get the right people, and a lot of them: the organisation has grown 20% in its first year since the carve-out. By leaving, Rosemont lost the management matrix at Perrigo and it left a talent void at the senior level. As the firm’s carve-out had been supported by Inflexion, he turned to the private equity firm for support in this role. “They were very, very helpful in connecting me with people to help source talent and then their internal talent director helped me select the best candidates.”
Together they appointed John Beighton as a Chair as the carve-out was underway. “This was key because we didn’t have the experience we needed in-house to source someone with his expertise; he’s added a great deal of valuable insight to our Board,” Howard says. The C-suite was also enhanced, with a Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Scientific Officer also appointed before then setting out to build the rest of the team.
Their plans for growth meant very specific skillsets were needed. “I was looking at recruitment from a corporate viewpoint and hadn’t anticipated the speed at which we’d pursue international expansion and M&A. It became clear we needed a CCO to really drive our growth opportunities, with international pharmaceuticals and PE experience. We’ve appointed a Chief Scientific Officer with equally strong credentials. We now have a very broad and experienced team which makes us feel more capable. This puts us in good stead for now, the next few years, and even in our life post-Inflexion.”
Howard proudly points out a familial culture at Rosemont and his desire to maintain that as they grow. “Our focus on being collegiate, fostering long-term relationships and a high degree of trust are crucial to maintain as we turn up the speed and on a broader scale,” he states. In many departments this initially meant people doing more hours; in other areas they’ve added capacity. “It’s still a family and families grow so it’s about creating touchpoints that keep everyone together. We spend a lot of time talking about our mission. We took a mixture of old and new key players and had some heated conversations about our mission. Moving away from just liquid medicines was very emotional, but by giving everyone a voice and enabling some internal conflict, it’s helped people know how everyone feels, understand the common goal, and overall feel engaged.”
This engagement is more like a marriage – it should be forever. To ensure the company is in-tune with staff sentiment, Rosemont have undertaken an engagement study. Howard is enthusiastic that they scored very highly but is aware there are areas to focus on improving. He points to training and development as a key spot, explaining it was existent (if underwhelming) at Perrigo, but with that now gone there are no obvious opportunities for staff to grow.
We need to show a genuine willingness to invest in the individual, show them they can grow here or at least develop the skills to move somewhere else in a stronger position than they entered.
By offering employees opportunities, he feels he is investing not just in them, but in Rosemont. “We need to offer lots of prospects for development, because by making this a great place to work, we can ask for their commitment to drive growth – their own and that of Rosemont.”
The right people key to getting it right
The delicate and complex nature of carve-outs means the right people are crucial to getting the process right. Inflexion knows this well, having crafted a number of such deals over the years, and so was on the front foot when it came to people power for the Rosemont deal. The firm worked with a seasoned private equity CFO with carve-out experience ahead of the deal with a view to having him start on the day of completion.
“We take the power of management teams very seriously,” says Cordelia Dolan, Talent Director at Inflexion. “It’s not just about right here and now, but about success for the longer term. The process is thoughtful, progressive and open, which helps relationships build more quickly because the trust is there,” she explains.
“Cordelia was a big part of selecting our CFO, and that’s been very useful,” Howard says. “The support of Inflexion in the entire process, particularly the people side of things, has been immensely helpful.”