Jarosław Skupiński
By Jaroslaw Skupinski, HR country head and board member at GSK Poland
gsk pole



Jaroslaw Skupinski*, HR country head and board member at GSK Poland, talks to the BPCC’s Michael Dembinski about the rapid growth of the company’s global and regional hubs located in Poland, and the challenges of growing a large and diverse workforce at a time of increasing labour shortages.

GSK has invested heavily in Poland over the years, bringing more and more of its regional and global operations to Poznań and Warsaw. I’d like to start by asking about your activities in the Hub – why GSK chose Poland as a base for of operations for the whole EMEA region. How many people does GSK currently employ in Poland, and what are your plans for the near future?

Poland is a stable, growing EU economy with rich cultural heritage and traditions of liberty. We have an amazing talent pool of professionals available in the market; with 28% of Poles in working age having a university degree, it’s a nation recognised for high proficiency in languages. GSK in Poland is a responsible partner that builds trust-based relationships with all participants of the Polish healthcare system, focusing on dialogue and transparent cooperation. As a leading investor in the pharmaceutical industry in Poland, we are contributing to sustainable, long-term social and economic development.

We’ve been operating in Poland for 46 years and the first investments took place in 1998. Currently, we provide Polish patients with over 25 million units of pharmaceuticals and vaccines each year.  Over 15 years ago, we started the operation of IT and Regulatory teams in Poznan. Expanding our footprint by creating a GSK Poland Global Hub in 2021 was a natural step. The last five years were an accelerated growth period of our global operations delivered from Poland. In a short time we have tripled the number of our employees with almost 2,500 in two locations: Warsaw and Poznan.

Our Hub consists of six functions:

  • R&D Hub – fast expanding global hub (more than 700 employees) with a broad spectrum of highly specialised roles and new functions that generate innovative solutions in technology and patient-centricity, such as implementing digital health solutions, developing ambitious clinical study data strategies and risk-based quality management processes, leading pivotal global clinical trials or assuring scientific and medical oversight and review of patients’ data
  • Global Capability Tech Centre – with nearly 700 tech professionals delivering technology solutions in research and development of medicines and vaccines, supply chain, commercial and medical areas. It also provides underlying infrastructure, processes and services for Cyber Security, Global Risk & Compliance, Strategy & Transformation, learning and HR platforms.
  • Finance Hub – Europe – providing advanced finance services to GSK European and global operations. The support provided includes key end-to-end finance processes supporting performance such as for Close & Control, Planning & Forecasting and other specialist tax and accounting activities such as production accounting and R&D deal and alliance accounting.
  • Global Supply Chain Poland Hub – operating in the areas such as Customer Services, External Quality, LOC Quality, External Supply Planning and Packaging
  • Procurement Hub – providing strategic procurement support to all businesses globally in the direct procurement categories, R&D, manufacturing or indirect categories such as marketing and sales, technology, corporate & professional services, facilities and logistic
  • People Services Hub – provides consistent HR transactional support to 44,000 employees across 24 markets in EMEA Teams support managers and employees for all HR transactions

Depending on the team, the Poland Global Hub has not only EMEA in scope, but a global reach. Poland continues to be a strategic location for GSK, so we hope to see more investments in the future.

What is GSK’s approach to recruiting in a tight labour market? Are you successful in attracting skilled people from abroad to work for you in Poland? What are your retention and employer-branding strategies?

With unemployment in Poland among the lowest in the EU our labour market is a demanding one. What drives people towards GSK offers is our purpose – to unite science, technology and talent to get ahead of disease together. People appreciate our culture with strong DE&I focus, development opportunities within the company and competitive benefits on offer. With the rapid growth of the GSK Poland Global Hub, we targeted our Employer Branding activities not only to people based in Poland, but to other markets as well. I must say, we have been very successful in attracting amazing talents from around the globe, not only from Europe, but from the Americas or Asia. Around 10% of our people in Poland are now coming from other markets and we are very proud of having such a diverse teams. Part of our culture is to remain in a constant dialogue in all directions. We’re actively asking our employees about their engagement, well-being and feeling of belonging. Many of key changes we have implemented at GSK Poland are the outcome of those discussions. We want everyone at GSK to have their voice at the table, that’s why we have a robust DE&I agenda. Genuine care of employees is something that keeps them in the company for so long.

I see that other shared-services centres and BPOs are now recruiting abroad as well as within Poland – is this also the case with GSK? How do you manage a large and diverse labour force across GSK’s Polish hubs?

We are absolutely open to candidates from other markets and, as I mentioned, we are actively looking for them outside of Poland. What we are striving for is to have a diversity of their backgrounds, cultures and experience, because it is a key factor for innovations. Managing large and diverse populations may be a challenge, but with a multi-level approach to DE&I we have good results. From first days of onboarding our new colleagues are going through diversity and inclusion trainings to fully immerse in the culture. Local leadership team is accountable for executing DE&I strategy in their parts of the organisation. What we have found very useful is to foster a workplace where bottom-up initiatives are supported by leaders. We are proud to have four Employee Resource Groups focusing on People with Disabilities, Women Leaders, LGBT+ and Race & Ethnicity dimensions of diversity. Members of those groups are providing support among themselves, and also acting as a key sounding board for leadership team, working in partnership in shaping our culture at GSK.

Vaccination is a crucial part of GSK’s focus on innovation. If I could turn to this subject, from the point of view of corporate healthcare, to what extent should vaccination be treated by HR managers are an essential element of maintaining a healthy workforce? What are the benefits of rolling out vaccination programmes across companies?

From my perspective, taking care of employees and their families’ health and well-being is the most natural thing to do as HR Lead. At GSK we are lucky to have very committed people, who truly believe in our mission. If there is anything we can do to make their lives healthier we are going to support them as best as we can. We are an innovative biopharma company, so one can expect to see an offer of benefits, programmes and support focused on health and well-being.

Vaccination is an important element of our Health and Wellbeing agenda at GSK. As part of our health protection offer we developed a programme called Partnership 4 Prevention (P4P). In a design of the programme we identified certain areas of special focus we decided to offer to our employees. One of them is vaccination. After careful process of cross-checking vaccines covered by the Polish national health fund’s National Immunisation Programme with vaccines offered by our private healthcare providers, we have identified group of vaccines that are not available for free in either of those baskets. The result is a list of vaccines for adults and children offered to our employees and their family members free of charge as part of their healthcare protection package, covering diseases like HPV, Hepatitis, Tick-borne Encephalitis, Shingles, RSV and many more. We are hearing very often feedback from our newcomers that they are astonished by a range of vaccines available. This is a particularly strong benefit for parents, who sometimes even calculate financial savings they get by benefiting from our programme.

I believe vaccination, like other health focused benefits, will be rolled out in other companies in Poland. From employer’s perspective it is an investment with a high, long-term return. By protecting people with vaccination we can make sure they remain active employees for a long period of time with less time off due to being treated from a diseased that might have been prevented in the first place. Add to that parents with healthy, vaccinated children, and the company is gaining happier, healthier, more engaged and productive employees.

*Jaroslaw Skupinski joined GSK in 2017 as HR manager, currently he is in the role of HR country head and board member at GSK Poland. He is responsible for creating and implementing HR strategy and operational activities supporting business goals in an organisation of 2,400 employees. He gained strong HR leadership experience in various business change management projects, including greenfield investment. Before GSK he acquired HR expertise in global business services and logistics at a regional level. A graduate in psychology from Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan, he furthered his expertise with postgraduate studies in HR Management at WSB in Poznan. Passionate about leadership coaching, cultural transformations and diversity, equity & inclusion.