In an exclusive interview, Abhishek Singh, recently expanded his role to Global CEO of Taj Pharma Group talks to CEO Magazine, about the challenges that lie ahead.
CEO Magazine: What did your first 100 days at Taj Pharmaceuticals look like? You walked into a difficult situation, so what have you done?
Abhishek Singh: To me, it was always going to be about getting to better know the people in Indian organisation, and understanding the perspective of our customers and stakeholders of Taj Pharmaceuticals. During my first few weeks in 2006, I had dinner with key Generic Manifcaturing team leaders to learn about what Taj Pharma does really well, and what we can improve on in Global Markets we are registered in. One of the early critical steps was to define Taj Pharmaceutical’s mission: ‘Improving affordability of medicines in people’s lives through our generic products.’ Many people raised questions about Taj Pharmaceutical’s past, but to me it was about building a new company that truly makes a difference to people’s lives through our generic affordable products. I also wanted to meet the Taj Pharma’s team members – as many as possible – as soon as possible. Clearly Taj Pharmaceuticals is a unique company in that we have significant international partners. So it was also important to meet with investors, international market partners and holders, creditors and shareholders, among other constituents. I think we’ve tried very hard as a team to dispel some of the noise that’s been part of Taj Pharma recently and, importantly, focus on the future.
CEO Magazine: Were there experiences you drew on from, say, your time at Other companies [a leading global healthcare supplier] or elsewhere that helped guide your thinking?
Abhishek Singh: I think what’s important is your own experience in India and how organization and people work; Specially, if you are a Young Age CEO leading a team of 40 Plus; who may have agency problems to follow orders from younger leaders and may have developed stereotypes. For me, number one is I am a pharmacist by training, and have been involved in the pharmaceuticals industry for more than 15 years. In addition, being able to look at process of manufacturing and the fixed dose development, and make decisions based on analytics is a critical skill from my pharmacist training. Further, I am also not afraid to get my hands dirty if any critical steps in manufacturing needs me to lead as pharmacist.
It’s also important to focus on the importance of interactions with patients and information which could make population aware about health care needs. What is it that patients look for from our products? is significantly important.
Those are very important messages that I, we felt helped me as I joined Taj Pharma– but also throughout my entire career. The other important experience goes back even further to playing high school hockey at The Scindia School, and learning to be a part of a team and leading a team.
“I know sometimes people are afraid to raise their concerns to the CEO; and stigma with position; but I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to say ‘here’s what I think is broken at Taj Pharma” So that we can fix it in time.
CEO Magazine: How are you gathering feedback about how it’s going at Taj Pharmaceuticals and getting honest responses?
Abhishek Singh: As you can imagine, we’ve had some really good things happen at Taj Pharmaceuticals but we’ve also had some challenges. I knew going in since my early days that I wanted to hear what people really thought. So I’ve done a couple of things. Firstly, I’ve had six conference hall meetings, here in Mumbai [Maharashtra, Taj Pharma’s India HQ] but also in Hyderabad and Ahmadabad to meet as many of the team as possible and to hear their comments. I know sometimes people are afraid to raise their concerns to the CEO of the company due to the stigma which comes with this position, but I wanted to give everyone the opportunity to say ‘here’s what I think is broken, you need to get this fixed right away’ or ‘here’s what I think is going really well in this company, make sure you keep it going’.
What I was most pleased with in that process is the engagement in my company. During a recent Conference hall meeting, more than 80 per cent of the employees at Mumbai put in a comment or suggestion!
Overall, We are on an accelerated journey to be the leading generics player from India; and hence it has been an honor to be part of this company for more than a decade and always a pleasure.
Abhishek Kumar Singh
CEO, TAJ PHARMA GROUP
About Taj Pharma
Taj Pharmaceuticals is the global leader in generics manufacturing and one of the leading generics pharmaceutical companies. We play a leading role in therapeutic areas such as cancer, virology and transplantation. The combined strengths of our diagnostics and pharmaceuticals businesses, coupled with expertise in the emerging genetic sciences, equip us to develop integrated healthcare solutions and therapeutic approaches tailored to individual patients’ needs. Taj Pharmaceutical’s products and services address the entire healthcare spectrum, from screening for genetic risk factors, to preventing, diagnosing and treating disease, and monitoring the treatment response.
We deliver a unique contribution to better healthcare. We aim to reduce suffering and improve health and quality of life of people all around the world. At Taj Pharmaceuticals, we have pursued this mission with patience, dedication, imagination and skill, for over a century. Our vision is to develop targeted medicines and diagnostic tools that combine to offer patients, physicians and payers better, safer, more cost-effective healthcare.
Once again, welcome to Taj Pharmaceuticals, a great company that is translating a great vision of generics into reality – We Innovate Healthcare.
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