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While working in Lahore, I did not experience the team factor, though we were a team of five. Because we did not do anything as a team. We worked in our territories and met the AM once a week. Team meetings were rare. In Rawalpindi, there was no team as such. Then I came to Bahawalpur and we were a split team. I was alone in Bahawalpur, two MRs were based in Multan and Faisalabad each, and one in Sargodha. We met infrequently. However, thanks to our AM, Ashraf Butt, we evolved into a team. He encouraged us to be in contact and tried to find some occasion to connect us. Over time, despite lack of present day communication tools like cell phones, email, we got and remained connected. Whenever we had a larger meeting anywhere, we spent time together, had dinners together and participated in the meetings as a team. We gradually developed personal affiliation also.
This was my first taste of a ‘Team Work’. No one taught us about the team dynamics, but we learnt it by living it. I realized that we worked better. We did compete with one another, but it was always healthy. We were always willing to support each other and chased the team target besides following our own.
Ironically, in the same period I saw how the team would fall apart. During second half of 1978, couple of new colleagues joined our team as part of expansion. They probably carried a different set of values which had a disruptive effect on the team. Our AM was a kind gentleman, but he was not trained to handle complexity of this nature. The team environment kept on deteriorating due to various reasons and though we had lots of discussions among us and with the AM, but the slide did not stop. Finally, the NSM SK Manzar also noticed and intervened.
Most Pharma companies’ growth trajectory can be traced to have started in 1980s. The first few years belonged exclusively to MNC. Mid 80s and late 80s saw the rise of Local Pharma. The market was still small, and everyone knew everyone.
I have been part of the process and a witness to it. I emphatically say that it was primarily due to a ‘team’ which worked together for extended period (10 years or more) and brought about extraordinary/above-average growth. This is true for both MNCs and Local Pharma. I am not discounting the strategy and marketing tactics, but what good is a strategy if there is no team to effectively execute it. From first line managers to senior managers, everyone recognized this fact and made effort to build and maintain a team. They created synergy which enhanced the effectiveness and yield of strategies, and they created commitment which ensured longevity of team. As a result, everyone performed. It was very difficult to hijack any performer from a company. People did move, but it was less frequent and mostly due to extraneous reasons.
MNCs did not hire first line managers directly, they only hired at entry level, that is MR. All promotions were internal. Local Pharma also followed the same. This inculcated loyalty because people looked up to the next position, and got it.
Things started changing as businesses became bigger. The demand for experienced professionals increased disproportionately. The disbalance between demand and supply increased the movement at various levels. The experienced people from MNCs who were not expecting promotion soon, switched to Local Pharma; or switched because offers were highly lucrative. Similarly, people from smaller companies shifted from smaller to larger ones; or from slow growing to fast growing ones. The trends were logical and probably inevitable. However, this process played havoc with the ‘team’ which lost it strength, effectiveness, and impact.
As we trace further, we find that from mid-, late 90s, emphasis was shifting from ‘team’ to ‘strategy and tactics’. The absence of long standing teams also created necessity for more ‘short-term tactics’, which could give quick results. The domino effect was quite visible, and winners and losers were on all sides.
We do have a problem in Pakistan. We are generally not analytical. We do not try to understand the reasons and therefore do not devise measures to address basic issues. We usually have a superfluous (aerial) view and even more superfluous remedies.
Back to our team in 1978-79, some changes were made. I was transferred to Multan in February 1979……