Recognized as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 19, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Pharmascience Inc. was selected as one of Montreal's Top Employers (2017):
- Pharmascience invests in the education of the next generation through an academic scholarship program for children of employees (to $2,500 per child) and also encourages current employees to further develop their skills with subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation
- Along with 3 weeks of starting vacation allowance, Pharmascience provides up to 7 company-specified paid personal days off as well as a variety of alternative work arrangements
- Employees working at Pharmascience's head office enjoy a number of onsite amenities including a quiet room for meditation and relaxation, an onsite cafeteria with healthy and special diet menus, and free access to an onsite fitness facility
Pharmascience: committed to Montreal
Many of the positives about working at Pharmascience, employees say, stem from the fact it's rooted in Montreal. It was cofounded by Montrealer Morris Goodman and is now helmed by his son, David. So Quebec's largest pharmaceutical employer is committed to growing in that city -- defying the trend of other companies in the sector relocating elsewhere -- as well as to protecting the work-life balance of employees and to giving back to the community.
"With Montreal being the global head office, all the decision-making is here," says Benoit Lemelin, VicePresident of Human Resources, Public Affairs and Communications. He adds that because the company, also named one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People, is present in more than 60 countries, employees have a global impact, and there are opportunities to work abroad.
Moreover, being a privately owned company means the firm is very agile. "What's great about Pharmascience is the challenging work, the opportunities for employee development, and the real opportunity to be creative," says Lemelin. "We have a Chief Executive Officer, David Goodman, who's very empowering. So if I come up with an idea that's obviously in line with what we want to do, you turn around and the next day you're implementing what you proposed."
At the same time, Lemelin says, Pharmascience really does care about the "life" part of work-life balance. It has a one-of-a-kind Youth Leadership Program for the children of employees -- which also includes a number of disadvantaged youth from community organizations it supports -- that draws close to 200 kids each year. The idea is to "help our employees parent in those difficult years and instill notions of leadership to their kids and teens."
Flexibility about work arrangements is another sign of the company's focus on employee wellness. Sean MacDonald, Vice-President of Corporate and Business Development, says "no one batted an eyelash" when he took time off in January because his three and five-year old boys were sick. "If you're getting your work done, you have leeway to use your judgment. So it really is just a culture in which the life piece of it is not just a statement that's made in some HR document -- the company lives by it."
Julia Keshen, Brand Manager for the cough and cold portfolio, notes that another benefit of working at Pharmascience is the emphasis on community involvement fostered by Morris Goodman (now Chairman) and his son. Among other things, there's the Morris Goodman Community Partnership day every year, in which employees volunteer in their community as part of a regular paid workday. Says Keshen: "It's really a unique opportunity for employees to give back."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Pharmascience Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Pharmascience helps university students gain work experience through the Next Generation Leadership program which includes an opportunity for students to participate in a company-wide project that they research, plan and present to senior management
- Pharmascience created a Business Leadership Rotation Program to help employees develop the necessary skills for management-level positions -- the 3-year program features 3 different rotations of up to 12 months in various areas including the Chief Operating Officer's office, corporate development, sales and marketing, global operations and international business (which may include an international assignment) -- the program is open to recent grads with a background in business, sciences, engineering or a related field
Get a fast-acting dose of leadership at Pharmascience
Less than two years ago, Mylene Cousineau-Lavigne was working as an intern on the Public Affairs & Communications team of Pharmascience Inc. in Montreal. Today, she reports directly to the company's Chief Operating Officer as Project Lead of the COO Office Rotation Program.
"I'm on track for a management position, which I'll assume after only three years with the company," says Cousineau-Lavigne, who graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Quebec and just received her master's degree in marketing from École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montréal (HEC).
With more than 1,500 employees, Pharmascience has grown since its founding in 1983 to be the largest pharmaceutical employer in Quebec. In addition to conducting R&D, Pharmascience Inc. is a leading manufacturer and marketer of prescription and generic products as well as FDA-approved, Canadian-made injectables. The company commercializes nearly 400 product families in 20 different dosage forms for over 2,000 products.
With its head office in Montreal, Pharmascience recruits and develops young students and employees like Cousineau-Lavigne through its unique development programs, while allowing them to gain work experience in their field.
For example, the company helps university students gain such experience through its Next Generation Leadership program, which enables students to participate in company-wide projects that they research, plan and present to senior management. For promising talent like Cousineau-Lavigne, the company also administers a Business Leadership Rotation Program so they can develop the necessary skills for management-level positions.
The three-year program features three different rotations of up to 12 months each in the COO's office, corporate development, sales and marketing, global operations and international business, which may include an international assignment.
Like Cousineau-Lavigne, Ben Lemelin began almost immediately after he joined the company seven years ago to make a significant contribution to its success. At the time, the federal government was taking steps to regulate prices in the generic drug industry, and Lemelin added his voice to the warnings that the company needed to make adjustments.
To weather the disruption to its business, Pharmascience placed greater emphasis on its branded and international activities. It now operates in more than 60 countries, and has focused in particular on emerging markets.
"International operations used to be a small part of the company," says Lemelin, Vice President of Human Resources and Public Affairs & Communications. Now global markets account for a much larger share of the company's $700 million in revenue.
As a private company, Pharmascience can support its young employees with an eye on their long-term contribution to its growth. Since 2010, multinational companies in the industry have closed offices and consolidated operations within their home countries as the industry adapts to regulatory pressures, maturing markets and a series of global mergers. But with its head office in Quebec and a strong presence as an employer in the province, Pharmascience continues to create good-quality jobs for qualified young people.
"Because we're private, we don't have a quarterly focus," Lemelin says, "so we can focus on the long term."
That long-term focus also enables the company to administer programs over periods of several years that prepare young employees for leadership positions.
"Young people now want to have an immediate impact," says Lemelin. "They say, I want to do this. We say, go ahead and try it. You don't have to be 30, 40 or 50 to make your mark here."
Thanks to the company's emphasis on cultivating leadership skills through its youth development programs, Cousineau-Lavigne works on strategic business issues that directly affect the company's future.
"I'm an integral part of the project teams working on these files," she says. "I feel valued because Pharmascience has invested in me."