One of the best ways to succeed in competitive industries is to look to the companies that have the most success within the industry and emulate some of what they do. These companies generally find success by doing things right and doing them better than the competition. You can learn a lot by examining the shared traits of successful companies.

The pharma industry is one of the most competitive industries around. It can be difficult to find success but there are plenty of companies that do. How do they do it? While each company has its own unique story and does things in its own way, there are common denominators for success.

Successful pharma companies share some cultural DNA that plays a big role in making them a success. These are practices that successful pharma companies have committed to and work every day to meet these commitments. Here are four things successful pharma companies have in common.

They Invest in Their People

Even in a complex industry like the pharma industry, a company is more than just machinery, products, and processes. A company is only as good as the people who work within it. This is why successful pharma companies all invest in their people as much as they invest in their products and processes.

Investing in people is an ongoing process that starts before someone is even hired. Successful pharma companies start by investing in an exhaustive search that considers the whole candidate, both their hard and soft skills. This ensures that the people they hire are not just good at their jobs, they are also a good fit for the company culture.

Once the right person is hired, successful companies invest in a thorough onboarding and training process to make sure the new employee understands everything they can about their roles and responsibilities. The best companies don’t stop here though.

Investing in things like continuous training, regular reviews, career development, and 360 feedback helps keep employees at the company and keep them productive and invested in the company’s goals. Spending as much time, money, and effort on creating a people-centric corporate culture as they do create world-class drugs is how successful pharma companies go about their business and you can see the benefits.

They Commit to Quality Assurance

All successful companies that make a product are ultimately judged on the quality, safety, usefulness, and effectiveness of their product. In a heavily-regulated industry like the pharma industry though, quality assurance (QA) goes way beyond just creating a quality product for the sake of good PR or customer reviews.

The pharma industry is underneath an incredible amount of regulations and the very watchful eye of the federal government. This is for good reason too. If your widget from another company breaks or doesn’t work right, you can get another one and just not buy from that company again. If a pharma product doesn’t work right, sickness and disease may go unchecked or cause real harm to people and even lead to death.

Quality assurance in successful pharma companies permeates everything they do, from start to finish.  According to Dickson, IQ OQ PQ is the foundational process for quality assurance in regulated industries. This is a process that checks for quality before any piece of equipment is brought in and continues to test every aspect of that equipment before it is brought online.

Once the process is up and running, successful pharma companies incorporate QA into everything they do. It runs from development to prototyping to manufacturing to storage and distribution. Every step along the way is imbued with quality assurance so that they stay in compliance, deliver a great product, and keep people safe.  

They are Agile

Agility is a major buzzword in all businesses these days but you can see it clearly in action in the most successful pharma companies. In this sense, agility means that the business as a whole is able to adapt and evolve from old and current ways of working to new ways that make sense for their mission and keep them competitive in the marketplace.

The pharma industry is not the same as it was five years ago, five months ago, or in some cases, even five weeks ago. Pharma companies that are able to let go of old ways of working and pivot to new ways to deal with the ever-changing landscape of the industry are the ones that find success.

In the pharma industry, agility means doing things like adapting your strategy to meet the current needs of the healthcare community, creating teams that can work fast, multitask, and implement the latest technology. In 2020, the pharma industry’s agility was put to the test when they were asked to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. It is an extreme example, but you can truly see the agility in the companies that were best able to shift their resources to meet this challenge.  

They Value Collaboration

The success or failure of a pharma company ultimately comes down to how the company handles its own business. However, successful pharma companies understand that they are not an island in the pharma world. When pharma companies reach out and work with both industry and non-industry partners, it leads to more innovation, better solutions, and more success

There is a lot of value that pharma companies can gain from partnering with organizations in all different industries to help drive innovation. Governments, academia, and private, non-pharma businesses all offer unique perspectives and initiatives that pharma companies can gain a lot from.

Likewise, inter-industry collaboration can pay dividends for both companies. Once again, you don’t have to look further than the response to COVID-19 to see this in action. Almost all the top COVID vaccine projects are a partnership between one or more pharma companies and one or more outside institutions. This type of collaboration helps things get done quicker and produce better results.


Every successful pharma company takes a different path to success. That said, there are many commonalities that these companies share. They all invest in people, committed to quality assurance, act with agility, and value collaboration. They all do it in their own special way but the point is, they all do it, and that is the big takeaway.