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Continued from last……

Keeping focus on customers, product and strategy required ‘Team Effort’.

The other key success factor for Hoechst was building, developing, nurturing and engaging the team. It started in small steps.

When Tariq Umar joined Hoechst in 1985, he did inherit a team. The company had not been performing well for the last few years. Marketing had been consistently going down while dependence on ‘selling’ was consistently increasing. Hoechst had its own distribution network which made it easier to dump the stocks in the market. The Regional Managers were responsible for both, distribution and promotion. They were hard working people, but they mostly came from distribution. Distribution was their home ground and they felt more comfortable there. They had no idea about product marketing and customer development. The shift from promotion orientation to distribution orientation was inevitable and inexorable. The promotion team was left to their own working. They were not clueless, but they were certainly leaderless.

The following salient features can be highlighted from that time.

Working with Existing Team. The process started with whatever team was available. There were no wholesale changes. It was a worthwhile decision. Most of the people were experienced and had been with the company for several years. They knew the products, the market and the customers. Their work organization was less than desired but it was not entirely their fault. I knew most of them and I can say with conviction that many of them were sort of ‘uncut gems’. When they got cut and polished, their shine was brilliant. Working with the existing team also sent good will message to everyone, they settled quickly and got to work diligently.

Leading from the Front. Tariq Umar spent most of his time in the field and with the team. During working, he built customers, built relation with the team, showed them how to do high quality work and established himself as the leader. True, that sometimes it became difficult to match his speed and we heard complaints and shared these when we met. But nothing succeeds like success and soon everyone was enjoying the satisfaction and glory that came with success. Leading from the front was highly desired at that point in time and it was the most appropriate thing to do. It did yield great results.

Team Training and Development. It came in many ways. There were formal training sessions, in-house and with external trainers, and there were informal sessions. We requested the consultants to come to our office and give a talk to our teams on clinical subjects to enhance their understanding of the disease condition. They were extremely kind and generous, and they came and talked to us, explained to us about clinical aspects in a simple way. I am personally forever indebted to all these senior consultants for the knowledge they gave and for the manners they taught by example. There was an overall environment of learning and everyone tried to learn. Peer pressure also contributed to it. We had intense academic discussions inside and we became confident to do it in the field.

Team Cohesion. The last factor I wish to point out was that it was a very well-knit team. We competed with each for excellence and honors but there was no infighting. We were more like friends and buddies. Many of our relations have lasted for a life time. We were always willing to support each other. As a presenter, I traveled extensively and worked with all teams. It was always pleasant. They were warm and welcoming, and we enjoyed traveling together and working together.

TEAM was a Key Success Factor. It is a rare opportunity to have a team which learns intensively, works extensively and stands committed for many years. A lot of credit goes to lot of people who made it happen; most to the team itself. In all successful Pharma companies’ history, you will be able to trace a TEAM which worked hard and stayed long and changed the course of the company.

To be continued……


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