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Continued from last……
International Marketing and Sales is a small arena. The number of people who actually led the effort in this field is rather small. Today, I want to talk about some of them whom I knew or met personally. I would apologize at the outset from anyone whom I forget to mention here. The omission would be purely unintentional.
Do allow me to make a basic segregation. IM&S leaders are those who had adequate freedom to explore, initiate, install and run international business. Their companies had international business as a strategic priority and dedicated resources for this purpose. There are only a handful companies in this group. Getz, CCL, Nabiqasim, Indus are the examples who have relentlessly pursued this objective. They developed the required infrastructure and processes for this business and hired or upgraded their staff to Director level. On the other end of spectrum are those companies who allocate limited resources for this business, work with relatively junior people because all decisions are taken by the owners. This is comparatively larger number. In between, there are all kinds of shades.
Another clarification. I am not exactly a veteran of international business. I worked full time in this area for four years. But those were extremely happening years and gave me accelerated exposure. My orientation for detail and analysis always helped me to develop deeper and stronger understanding.
I mentioned Younus Batla in an earlier blog. Batla sahib is pioneer of international business in Pakistan Pharma. He started in 1970s and started exploring various countries, largely on his own initiative. He has dedicated his professional life to promoting international business. His contributions to IM&S are many. He gathered and shared knowledge, trained several people and opened many markets. Jalaluddin Zafar who started with him several years ago is now a veteran in his own right.
Altaf Hussain has also dedicated most years to international trade. He has traveled widely for business and included some unconventional markets in the list. He has worked with several companies and has actually initiated some companies in this direction.
I met Dr. Ashraf on a delegation to Yemen. When we went to the office of their regulatory body SBDMA, someone shouted in Russian and his shout was responded from this side ably. This was Dr. Ashraf. A very likeable and go getter veteran of IM&S.
In the same delegation, I also met Altaf Ahmad. He is gentle and cordial but strong in his achievements.
Dr. Arshad Saleem spent his youthful years in IM&S and built enviable business for his company from zero and sustained it.
Dr. Masood held fort of IM&S for several years in Karachi. I am not sure where his is now.
Jaffer Dada, Babar Anjum Afghan have been in the trade for long. Syed Muzaffar Ali joined the group over ten years back.
Sajidullah Ghumman started from Karachi and then shifted to Lahore several years ago. We worked together for over three years. I vouch for his strong orientation, his eye for business, his skill for developing business and his stress threshold. He is still fully active in IM&S.
I wish to mention Sharaz Ahmad and Naoman Ramzan, two colleagues who came from operations side but then graduated to become business heads.
Lastly, I wish to mention Palitha Thenuwara, A Sri Lankan whom we hired in late 2005 as team manager is Sri Lanka when we reorganized business there. I mentioned him once already. Palitha did a great job, built and expanded business rapidly. He became too big for one country, so he was given supervision of several more countries in different regions. He finally ended up as Director and Head of IM&S. It was not just a great achievement but an equally great acknowledgement of performance as well. Palitha is highly disciplined, upright, compassionate task master and a high achiever.
International business is more complicated, more difficult, and more stressful. The stress of traveling itself is huge, with too many nights spent on airports without proper sleep and an overall loss of discipline in life. It also requires multiple skills; ability to understand and work across cultures, languages, mindsets, regulations and not-too-occasional surprises. It means starting from scratch in every country and building it. It means running multiple countries simultaneously. This is totally different from Domestic business which is single country, stable, growing and largely predictable, though I don’t mean to take any credit away from DM&S veterans and champions.
I take this opportunity to pay special tributes to all colleagues who chose IM&S in the past and are opting for it now.
To be continued……