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Editorial: Strength in People.

By Len Monheit

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Scrolling through the past few week's news and announcements and even going back into last year, we see numerous personnel appointments for both product and service-based companies. If we acknowledge and accept that this industry is maturing, and some of the emerging and evolving convergence areas like cosmeceuticals and functional and healthy foods not only exist but have huge growth potential, you have to wonder what the optimal skill set for new hires for 2005 and beyond will look like. Outsourced skills too, will need to be examined to ensure that providers cannot only meet current requirements and needs, but have also geared up appropriately to meet the needs of five to ten years from now.

How valuable is natural and nutritional products industry experience? Is Consumer Packaged Goods experience necessary? What about navigating the food industry? How about pharmaceutical GMP implementation? What product development and formulation experience is optimal? Does this mean that outsourcing and outsourcing qualifications need to be completely overhauled?

These are some of the decisions currently facing executives, outsourced service buyers and HR managers, superimposing current realities on future demands, and we're beginning to see organizations position themselves by bringing in out-of-industry experience and guidance, and making more stringent and long-term demands of suppliers of products and services.

Does this mean the 'promote from within' philosophy' will soon be a thing of the past? Likely not, so long as those candidates for promotion recognize the forces working on the sector and evolve accordingly, including attending the right seminars and symposia, are plugged into the right information channels and are actively stretching existing relationships and developing new ones that will assist them in years to come. Sounds pretty obvious I think.

If you accept that positioning to meet future demand is critical, and that companies like to deal with companies with vision, then it makes sense to let your existing and potential clients know that not only are you exceptionally well prepared to meet current needs, but that you've anticipated future requirements and taken the steps necessary to meet those requirements. This has to do with capabilities, it involves personnel appointments, it covers expansion plans and it encompasses compliance activities. Some companies realize the importance of this communication - ironically, they're the leaders in most fields. Others are lagging, both on implementation as well as communication. Strange correlation - I think not.

In closing, I see an unrealized opportunity for many organizations to market their people as well as they market their products.

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