Enabling Interdisciplinary Research to Drive Tomorrow’s Economy

09/27/2022 5:08 PM | Cinnamon Thompson (Administrator)

The Southern California Development Forum (SCDF) is an organization that brings together a community of real estate leaders on the latest trends, strategies, projects and provides networking opportunities. The organization hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, discussing how the increase in institutional, private, and commercial research has driven a highly competitive landscape that attracts the best talent, and how organizations are evaluating space and facilities, funding sources, and interdisciplinary opportunities to entice researchers that will drive innovation within the markets.

Shaun Stiles, Executive Director of Cushman & Wakefield, served as the moderator for panelists Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager of Caltech; Talena Williamson, Project Controls Senior Manager of Amgen; and Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing, Tech Transfer of Takeda.

Attracting and Retaining Talent in the Current Economy

“We hire the best of the best and give them labs, spaces, and the tools they want and need to do what they do best,” said Coomy Kadribegovic, Senior Manager at Caltech. “We are learning that these researchers are very community-oriented and want to know how their spaces function in terms of their students, who they interact with, and they also want to be surrounded by other distinguished scientists.”

The California Institute of Technology, Caltech, is a private research university in Pasadena that attracts world-renowned talent from all over the world.

Talena Williamson, Senior Manager at Amgen, says in terms of retaining talent, it’s important for companies to realize it’s not always about the job, but the career.

“It’s all about the culture and what makes you want to come to work every day,” says Williamson. “At Amgen, they really offer a sense of community and purpose of doing something better for the world.”

The Shifting Economy and Challenges it Brings

A common question asked among industry experts amidst the pandemic is how do we efficiently optimize the spaces we operate in.

“It’s not about revamping lab spaces anymore, but transforming older spaces to fit the needs of the future,” explains Williamson.

Brian Cooper, Director of Manufacturing at Takeda, says a huge change he has noticed since the pandemic is the process of building capital projects and corporate managers are more open to carrying costs.

“When they fund a capital project, they basically expect us to issue POs for the entire project as soon as we get funding,” explained Cooper. “We’d much rather have the materials sitting on the dock ready to go, rather than holding up a project because we are waiting for a shipment to come in.”

Due to the state of today’s supply chain, companies are strategically planning much further in advance to ensure materials are arriving ahead of time to make sure capital projects stay on their designated timeline.

Sustainability Efforts

Kadribegovic says Caltech has started a sustainability program where the sustainability manager hands out plaques to professors they work with during the design process. It is a small effort to get the occupants excited about sustainability in operations.

“It’s real basic stuff like turning off the lights, unplugging equipment when not in use, etc.” explains Kadribegovic. “But I think it will go a long way in starting conversations about sustainability and what that looks like.”

Digital and Automation Demand

The shift to remote work awoke a technological demand among consumers. Wi-Fi and laptops are now critical for the workforce.

“There is definitely a stronger appetite for more digital and remote work,” says Williamson. “It is more enticing to new talent when you have top-level technology and equipment that can push your company to the forefront.”

Correspondingly, Cooper says he’s noticed there is a much higher expectation among design engineers than it was just two years ago.

As the world, the economy, and the industries we work in constantly shift to adapt to the current trends, it is no secret that digital and flexible work will persist. Luckily, in terms of hiring and retaining talent, offering flexible, remote and digital work will continue to prove to be a huge advantage in attracting the best talent and expanding the talent pool which we all pull from.

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