Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #640 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi onWordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Opening Note

February 2022 marked my completing 47 years of working in Pharma Industry. Allah be praised. I am still working. My journey of near half century is also the journey of Pharma Industry in Pakistan. Great changes have occurred in this time and a lot could be written about it. In my blogs, which were started about four and a half years ago, I have covered several topics related to Pakistan Pharma Industry. This multi-part series is the SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats – Analysis of the Pharma Industry and propose strategies.

Strategies to Avert Threats/Risks

In this last set, we shall discuss strategies that shall help in averting threats and risks. These may be prevailing now and may be coming up in the near future. The nearness of future is important factor, because some of the shadows are already lurking. In the strategic language ‘Clear and Present Danger’ is which is here and now and serious. Some do belong to this category also.

We shall start from the present and move into future.

  • Manage Talent Well – Unemployment woes besides, the fact is that required talent is not available when required. Somehow the people are not finding desired jobs and hiring managers are not finding adequate people.
    • Talent should first be understood clearly. The jobs in today’s times are knowledge-based jobs. Even the smallest jobs are knowledge jobs. Machine operators need knowledge about machine operations to run the machines. There is no institution in the country which provides training to operators of different machines in Pharma industry. The knowledge is transferred from person to person. Even the packing staff need knowledge to do the packing right. They must understand what is accepted and what should be rejected. There is acute shortage of machine operators and packing staff. Packing staff is substituted with unskilled labor, girls mostly, who do the job but have many issues. Machine operators cannot be substituted with unskilled labor. The cost of machines run in many millions and an untrained person must not be trusted with running it; he may cause damage which will take millions to repair and even more millions in lost time.
    • Quality control equipment like HPLC – High Performance Liquid Chromatography, UPLC – Ultra High-Performance Liquid Chromatography, GC – Gas Chromatography, AA – Atomic Absorption are just a few examples which cost multimillion rupees and require proper training and expertise to run. Again, there is no place where training is offered, except thanks to vendors of these machines who may arrange training.
    • Marketing of pharmaceuticals has come a long way, as discussed in an earlier post. It is a highly technical job which requires education and experience both. It is common knowledge that other than Karachi; it is difficult to find good brand managers. Karachi has head offices of MNCs and many big Local Pharma. They are all into serious marketing and employ many brand managers who get trained and become available for other corporates. This is how things happen in all functions. New people, fresh after education, join organizations who train them, and they find their ways outside.
    • Human Resource function has come a long way and has become a highly developed and specialized job. Several new concepts have been introduced and are being practiced.
    • Finance is not just book-keeping, but a complex function of financial management, internal control, and internal audit.
    • Many companies are opting for ERP like SAP and Oracle. Working on such software requires specialized skills.
    • Attitude towards job is the added dimensions. The job designs are complex, and demands are high and therefore, without right mindset, the performance is not possible.
    • This is what is all the talk about talent in the world. It is the right qualification, right experience, and right attitude. You may find one of these or two of these and not all three, your talent requirement is not fulfilled.
    • Out of the above three, only experience may be given through hands-on training and on-the-job coaching. The qualification cannot be improved, and the attitude cannot be changed. In fact, it has been established beyond reasonable doubt that attitude change is virtually impossible.
    • Talent shortage is a worldwide phenomenon and must not be confused with high number of unemployed people. The actual problem is that the teaching institutions and universities are teaching subjects which have no market utility. They are working hard and charging heavily to increase the unemployed workforce. If they are cognizant of the market requirements and organize teaching courses accordingly, half of the problem will be solved
    • In Pakistan, we are still least sensitive about talent acquisition, talent retention and talent management. We take refuge in hiring unsuitable people and coercing them into jobs for which they are not prepared. Or we hire unnecessary staff just because we can hire cheaply.

The Pharma industry is a knowledge industry, it cannot work without requisite talent. Local Pharma shall do itself a world of good to review hiring policies and bring these in line with the current requirements.

To be Continued……

Disclaimer. Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images which does not show anyone’s copyright claim. However, if any such claim is presented, we shall remove the image with suitable regrets.

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