September 29, 2017

Career Spotlight: Cathy Moll

By ThinkingAhead

Recruiters help place people in positions where they can excel, but that’s not all. In the case of Cathy Moll, partner and manager of the Life Sciences practice at ThinkingAhead, placing the right people in the right positions can contribute to scientific breakthroughs and drug developments that better the lives of countless people. Cathy’s career began in temporary staffing, providing nurses for hospitals, and Home Care. After spending some time in temporary office staffing, she was brought on to lead a new Life Sciences practice at ThinkingAhead — and she’s led it to great success over the years!

Changing Minds and Mindsets

According to Cathy, temporary staffing couldn’t be more different from Executive Search — and she was initially hesitant to make the change. Temporary staffing for hospitals involved placing nurses, who are accustomed to working in different locations, different shifts and rotating between several hospitals. Permanent Placement, requires recruiters talk to settled, often satisfied senior-level individuals and ask them to imagine what they could achieve elsewhere. “It’s all about introducing people to change,” says Cathy. And to be successful in executive recruiting, Cathy had to be open to change, too.

A Tough Sell

In her current role, Cathy works with bright, talented, successful people in the pharmaceutical industry. Many are deeply involved in ongoing research and development or dedicated to a specific therapeutic area.

Cathy’s job as an executive recruiter and consultant sometimes entails asking individuals to consider companies and programs that may not yet have marketed products. For many, giving up the relative security of a large pharmaceutical company to work at a smaller, unproven one is frequently a challenging sell — even when that smaller company is working on incredible new drugs, treatments, or therapies. But Cathy’s placements are often even more fulfilled in their new roles, since their knowledge and experience go a long way toward successful development.

Overcoming Challenges and Selling Opportunities

Another challenge unique to the life sciences: people are often unwilling to transfer between therapeutic areas because of their devotion to the programs they currently work on. As a result, Cathy pays close attention to many different areas of research and development and invests a lot of time into her candidates to learn what motivates them the most. “Whether a person is developing a new treatment for heart disease or diabetes,” asks Cathy, “how can they take their knowledge and experience and apply it to achieve the greatest results? It’s about helping them understand how they can help develop new drugs and treatments.”

It’s no surprise, then, that one of the most difficult aspects of Cathy’s job is talking to people who are usually happy where they are and challenging them to consider other opportunities outside of their comfort zone. After all, changing roles can entail significant risks and even uproot families; as a result, Cathy has to be extraordinarily confident and optimistic about the opportunities she shares.

Just as important as getting to know her candidates is getting to know her clients. “And not just the company culture,” says Cathy, “but the culture of the department and even the group in which they will be working. You have to paint a picture for candidates that’s vivid and attractive enough for them to consider making a change.

Solving the Puzzle

For Cathy, executive recruitment is like solving a puzzle — discovering where people best fit in their field. “I’ve introduced people to opportunities they never saw coming and wouldn’t ordinarily have considered,” says Cathy. “Five years down the road, when they’ve advanced their careers and contributed to successfully bringing a new, life-saving drug to market, that’s when it’s rewarding.