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Strategic Talent Management within Ireland’s Life Science Sector- Jennifer O' Brien


In 2016, I began a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management with Cork Institute of Technology, now Munster Technical University. Throughout my time in this degree programme, as well as my work with Fastnet – The Talent Group, I became very interested in the concept of Strategic Talent Management and how it is utilised in the Life Science sector in Ireland. Reaching the fourth semester of my degree programme in January 2018, it became the obvious topic of choice for my thesis in which I explored the utilisation of Strategic Talent Management within the Life Science sector in Ireland.

In 2017, Ireland was named the best country in the world for attracting high-value foreign direct investment for the sixth year in a row and is home to the top ten global Life Science organisations. The Life Science industry in Ireland depends on a consistent pipeline of talent to realise the growth incentivised by this investment and as the war for talent rages, there is unrelenting pressure on these organisations to attract, manage, develop, engage and retain highly skilled STEM talent. The talent focus, consequently, must become more strategic.

Strategic Talent Management is a well-established concept, having been on the minds of HR professionals for decades. Many theories have been proposed to provide an explanation of the ideology. Ultimately, this has led to the perception of Strategic Talent Management as being a series of strategic activities to attract, manage, develop, engage, and retain talent. Despite this, Talent Management is considered as one of the five key challenges HR has faced, and felt least prepared for, between 2007 and 2017 and remains the leading priority organisations will be addressing over the coming two years. Alarmingly, only twenty per cent of HR professionals function with a formal definition of Talent Management and despite good intentions, many organisations have failed to create a talent first strategy.

Ultimately, Strategic Talent Management is crucial to attract, manage, develop, engage and, above all, retain a high performing workforce and investing in these practices may be the necessary measure to counteract the war for talent. HR Professionals are investing a significant amount of time and effort into candidate attraction but are missing the additional pieces of the puzzle such as management, development, and engagement, therefore creating an unforeseen retention issue for the future. Talent Management strategies that can both operate in the current climate and equally harvest growth in the future are extremely necessary and agile strategies may be the necessary answer.

Having given a flavour of what the thesis topic I explored is all about, I would like to share my learnings and observations from this body of work. I was fortunate to have a fantastic supervisor in Dr Deirdre O’Donovan at CIT, as well as a huge amount of support from my workplace, to assist me in achieving a ‘first in class’ thesis and it would be a shame not to share this. Over the coming weeks, I will be posting a number of articles to delve into the topic of Strategic Talent Management further, and hopefully initiate some interesting conversations.

If this is something you are interested in and would like to discuss in more depth, please feel free to reach out.

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