Dear Pharma Veterans. It is part of the original concept that individual Pharma Veterans will be profiled. These men and women spent their entire work life in Pharma Industry and contributed enormously. They are a reason for celebration and a source for inspiration. Your comments and contributions are awaited. Would you like to have yourself profiled here? Please write to ­­­­­­­­­­

Muhammad Iqbal Awan was born in 1947. He started in Pharmaceutical Sales in 1973 after a brief stint in teaching. By Allah’s Grace, he is still working full time in sales management, and that makes him the longest serving Pharma Salesperson, as far as I know.

Work Philosophy. To Present myself as a Role Model; Build Strong Team and Motivate to Convert Challenges into Opportunities.
Iqbal Awan

Basic Bio. Iqbal Awan did BSc and joined a private school as Science Teacher in 1968. In 1972, IA left teaching and switched to Pharma Sales as med rep in Schazoo Laboratories. He shifted to Hoechst in 1974 and then to Wyeth in 1976, from where he retired in 2011 after more than 35 years of service.

Read his story of joining Pharma in his own words (slightly edited for space)

“Before entering pharmaceutical sales, I was a science teacher in a private school in Rawalpindi from 1968-1972. In 1972, People Party government nationalized private teaching institutions. My class fellows who had entered Pharma sales motivated me to join in. It was very difficult to get a job in those days. There was little awareness as far as this profession was concerned. My friend Ghyas Ud Din (Hoechst) gave me a newspaper clipping having an advertisement for the job of medical representative. The job requirement was a good academic career with Chemistry as major subject in B.Sc. and fluency in English communication. I, under the insistence of my friends and class fellows, applied. I received the telegram for the written test 2 weeks later. In those days there was no courier service and the application were to be sent through registered post. The written test was held in hotel Flashman Rawalpindi. There were about 50 candidates. It was a three-hour written test. The test included English essay, Urdu-English translation and few questions about Chemistry and Biology. Overall, it was a very difficult paper. After a few days I received a telegram for the interview at Intercontinental hotel. It was a newly constructed 5-star hotel. I felt afraid of going to this hotel as I was not aware of the protocol of the hotel. On the D-Day, I went for the interview. The girl at the reception desk asked me to contact this room # from the in-house phone. I was not used to this type of formalities. With a lot of efforts, I made myself to call. The bell rang and after a pause a voice asked me my purpose of calling. In the mean time I had composed myself and was ready for the worst. I told him about the telegram and the invitation for interview. He asked me to come on 3rd floor. It was my 1st experience of using a lift. I was standing on the door of the lift knowing nothing what to do. An employee of the hotel looked at me. I asked him that I want to meet Mr. C. A. Khan for the interview and that he had asked me to come to his room on 3rd floor. ”Where are the stairs?” I asked. He said ‘you can come with me I’ll tell you how to operate the lift’. It took few seconds and I was on the floor for meeting the person with a unique name CA Khan. I was welcomed by the gentleman who was occupying a chair and besides him was a dynamic smart person in a well stitched suit. Both of them introduced themselves to me and asked me to occupy the hot seat. CA Khan started asking questions about my family back ground, academics etc. The smart young person asked some questions related to Chemistry. He was impressed by my replies. The interview lasted for about 45 minutes everything was asked, but nothing was told about the job or about my sales aptitude. Finally, I was told that I’ll be informed about the outcome of this interview. After two weeks I received a telegram. It was about the final interview at Lahore. I went to Lahore with my father. There were several candidates. I was called for interview by 6pm. There were three persons Mr. CA Khan, Mian Zaka Ur Rehman and Mian Shuja Ur Rehman. Only Mian Zaka Ur Rehman asked the questions and these too were related to Chemistry. He was a kind hearted, soft spoken person with an authoritative attitude. After the interview which lasted for about 30 minutes he asked Mr.CA Khan to take me for the meal. I told Mr. CA Khan about my father who was waiting for me outside the premises of Schazoo Laboratories. He told me that I could take the meal as my father was not allowed to enter the office. I declined to take the meal and rushed to the gate. A man followed me and before I could reach the gate he asked why I had not taken the meal. I told him the reason. He asked me to stay for a while, came back and asked me to call my father and took us to a small dining room with lavish food. During this time Dr.Zaffar (Production manager) Joined us and he asked how we‘ll go to Rawalpindi .I told that we’ll travel by train. He came back and paid me the money for two 1st class tickets. When we were about to leave Mian Zaka Ur Rehman came and introduced himself to my father.

After a few days my training for the job at Lahore started. We were lodged at Lahore hotel. These were my initial days with Schazoo which I cannot forget. We were thirty-five persons in the training. After fifteen days, we left for our base towns with the promises of writing letters, but the hectic field activities did not provide time to remember anything except sales and targets.

It was my 1st day in the field and my manager Mr. Mazhar Ali Khan took me to DHQ Hospital, Rawalpindi. We called on a lady doctor. My manager demonstrated to me how to detail. After the call, he left asking me to call on all the drs. While leaving he mentioned that the ladies in the white coat were lady doctors. I met a lot many ladies putting on white cotton coat. I gave them the samples and the ball points in a very good quantity. My detailing bag was now empty. I called on almost 20 ‘lady drs’. I wrote their names in the diary. I was surprised to see that some of these drs were very young. In the evening as per plan I met my boss. He asked me about my morning calls I told him my meeting with 20 ‘lady drs’. He was astonished to know that I called on so many lady drs. I showed him the diary. He got annoyed and told that I had called on all the nursing students…..but these extensive calls on the young nursing students built my rapport with this delicate segment of the medical profession.”

To Be Continued……

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