Stelerix Web Blog Knowledge at your Fingertips

20Jan/110

Exclusive Interview with an Expert: Vikram Sathish Asokan

We've had a lot of luck getting in touch with experts, as of late.

My latest conversation was with sales superstar Vikram Sathish Asokan, a Director at Lister and Berg in India.

We talked about the three pillars to success in start-up companies (spoiler alert: Good human resources capable of getting things done, financing and technological savvy). We also touched on how to transgress beyond selling and ensure profitable long term relationships with Indian clients.

If you have ideas for future interview, or how to improve, I'm really happy to incorporate constructive criticism going forward so please do send!

Posted by Jeff

18Jan/110

Call for Questions.

We have an interview upcoming with Vivek Shukla, later next week.

His 12  years of experience serving over 40 reputable clients in the Indian pharmaceutical industry have given him a grasp of strategic business knowledge that is unrivaled.

Now is your chance to pick the brains of a world-class expert. Comment or send questions to info@stelerix.com

Posted by Jeff

18Jan/110

Exclusive On-Demand Webinar, Free! Atul Sharma – Global Partnerships

If you have not yet read or listened, check this out!

Atul Sharma, Senior Manager at Alembic Limited took some time to speak with me about his expansive experiences in a diverse array of emerging and mature markets.

We discuss a number of issues in-depth, like understanding local success drivers and why innovation is especially important in generic formulations.

There are lots more similar interviews coming up, so submit your questions if you want to hear from experts!

Posted by Jeff

13Jan/110

Call for Questions!

I have a number of interviews coming up.  I am really excited to have the opportunity to speak to experienced stakeholders. It is bound to be one engaging and informing discussion after another.

Get ready for a flood of quality content in the latter half of next week.

I have done my best to think up intriguing questions. They are all based on direct input from our preliminary research and direct industry stakeholder input, like this. But I'm still new to the interview game. So if you have ideas or are burning for answers, please send them to us!

If you could pick the brain of an emerging market expert, what would you ask?

If you need some inspiration, here are some tried and true questions (and answers).

Alok Kumar, Part 1, Part 2 (FREE On-Demand webinar)

Vivek Varma - Contract Manufacturing

Posted by Jeff

12Jan/110

Exclusive Interview, Part 2

I woke up at 3:30am (2:00pm IST) the other day, to find out about lessons learned  in competitive generic global product launches.

The follow-up to our first exclusive interview is now online.

Watch this FREE, on-demand webinar to understand:

  • What the Indian market will look like in ten years
  • What differentiates it from
  • Strategies for generics success.
  • How to deal with regulatory hurdles and surprises.

It's our first attempt at supplementing an audio call with powerpoint presentations and a full minute-by-minute note-guide. We are very eager to improve and should have a version with improved sound quality up by tomorrow. Your comments and thoughts are encouraged.

FREE On-Demand Webinar - Alok Kumar discusses what is required for generics success in India, and the world.

Posted by Jeff

11Jan/110

Local Savvy

Here's an excerpt from our recent premium research:

"Of course, respondents identified active engagement of local people as the most effective means to understand their respective needs, as well as what they are able to pay to address them. However, our research also suggested that organizations as a whole have been slow to engage end-users actively. Patience and value on the long term was also a key trend among respondents. It was evident from our results that success in India favors ongoing and long-term relationships that grow and evolve over time. It is clear that the initial time investment and requisite patience were rewarded many times over in the longer term"

It's interesting, given some recent developments in the news.

Despite minor analytical shortcomings, the researchers identified different factors influencing prescription in a number of regions. It's evident that local stakeholder engagement is critical as our research said.

Alternatively, big pharma can continue to acquire leading domestic players. Abbott complemented it's own internal efforts by buying up Piramal. It plans to let the business operate independently with current management; a robust strategy, judging by our research.

We touch more on the subject of how to successfully partner with local influences and key opinion leaders in our follow-up interview with Alok Kumar (original here). It will be an audio presentation supplemented with powerpoint slides, available soon!

Sign up for our newsletter to be kept up to date!

Posted by Jeff

10Jan/110

Shlomo Maital: India’s Secret Weapon.

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you go," said the Cat.

"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you’re sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

I first became aware of Shlomo's work after falling in love with his insightful piece: India's Secret Weapon.

If you have not read this short essay, you would be remiss to close this page without perusing the referenced link.

It confirms my own ideas about the value of education. It also provides vivid insight into the scope and scale of education in India. It has obviously and intelligently been made a national and cultural priority. Even without Shlomo's incredibly compelling endorsement, it easy to begin to understand the potential of such large-scale initiatives. And it is exciting to imagine what it all might mean for the world at large.

In his new book, Global Risk/Global Opportunity, Shlomo Maital offers ten tools to help managers evaluate risk and exploit global opportunity by observing minds, markets and money. This is especially important today, given the increasingly connected global world. Because while we strive for an integrated and connected globe, thinking globally is harder than most imagine. To truly wrap your mind around the problem and understand the factors at play is a challenge. Eye-witness accounts and an eagerness and openness to understand and learn are a great starting point.

But in starting out, you must know where you want to end up. To this end, once again, Shlomo Maital provides valuable and intellectually stimulating insight:

Posted by Jeff

7Jan/110

NICE Weighs In.

If you haven't noticed, we like interviews. It's an effective way to convey information, because you get to hear the answers from the expert, unfettered. It's doubly exciting then, when the expert-on-trial mentions something independent and confirmatory.

Kalipso Chalkidou, Director of NICE International (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) in the UK, talks about the importance of understanding the sway of public and government payers as stakeholders.

Our favourite part though, is near the end. When she recommends we take time to involve everyone and understand the issues at play. But have a look for yourself:

What do you say?

Posted by Jeff

7Jan/110

Exclusive Interview: Dr. Vivek Varma on Sales and Success in Contract Manufacturing

This feature is permanently archived in our library, available here. For more exclusive interviews, added regularly to the blog please check back, or browse the library.

Dr. Vivek Varma, Joint Director of Indian-based Premier Medical Corporation, which manufactures rapid response diagnostic kits, is responsible for increasing sales by 300% in the last Indian fiscal year. Read on to learn how:

Jeff Waite: It's great to finally have you here, Dr. Varma. In all of our conversations, you have presented yourself with the utmost modesty. And yet in the last year you’ve increased sales turnover by more than 300%. Can you comment on the role modesty and grace play in your ongoing success?

Dr. Varma: I am just the face of the team who managed this increased turnover. It would not be appropriate to take credit for their efforts in this achievement. My only role has been to ensure that they are kept motivated at all times. I recognize the supposedly small, but very effective, suggestions given by all the members of the team (including those at the shop floor level) and give due credit to them.

Jeff Waite: Another thing that we’ve seen you do throughout a variety of past roles, is continue to improve incrementally. Each year you seem to be able to increase sales and productivity by a significant percentage. Is there a specific attitude or mindset you focus on to keep moving forward?

Dr. Varma: As mentioned earlier, I do not hesitate in acknowledging in public the originator of any idea. This helps me get more out of them. Insecurity and lack of self-confidence at higher levels are the major factors that keeps the productivity low.

Jeff Waite: Increasingly, team work and group collaboration are becoming the norm. In all of your roles so far, you have had a lot of success when it comes to working effectively and leading diverse teams, especially sales people. You’ve obviously and intelligently made it a priority, why is this so important to you?

Dr. Varma: As I have had the opportunity to work my way upwards towards higher responsibilities, it has helped me hone my attitude towards the sales team members. I always interact with each member of the Sales team at the individual level and have always looked at improving his / her career by giving suggestions. This has had an significant effect in their approach towards me and helped create a personal rapport. I always believed that “They are not working for me, but I am working to help them achieve their goals”

Jeff Waite: Given your broad experience setting up contract research and manufacturing facilities and organizations, is there a particular accomplishment or project on which you’ve worked that you are the most proud of, and why?

Dr. Varma: In my present company, we had a major challenge in improving the productivity of the packaging department. We were in the process of installing a machine that would improve the productivity dramatically. Initially, there was a lot of opposition from the shopfloor about the performance of the machine. In fact, people refused to work on the machine and at times deliberately misused the same. Once, there was a tremendous pressure on the team and they were unable to cope up with the timelines. At that point, I got the team together and explained to them about the benefits of the machine and how it would help them achieve the deadlines effortlessly. Though they took it up reluctantly, I stood with them and constantly motivated them to use the machine. After a few days, they realized that the machine was indeed helping them achieve deadlines easily. This realization made them more enthusiastic about the machine. In fact, when we were planning to add another machine, the team came up with very interesting recommendations that the productivity went up even further.

This is one accomplishment that I am very proud of. One of the major reasons is the fact that I could manage to convince them to use the machine for improving productivity. The team actually comprises of uneducated, but extremely intelligent people.The icing was the enthusiastic recommendations that we received for the subsequent machines.

Jeff Waite: A lot of our audience are students. Today, students in faculties from biomedical engineering, to commerce and economics, have more options than ever before. The most successful long-term commitments require a degree of passion, or vested enthusiasm to keep us going. What aspect of your work gets you the most excited? How are you planning to incorporate this going forward?

Dr. Varma: Yes. The options are more now than before. But, the students are generally unaware of them due to the limited exposure that they have during their studies. They are usually frustrated during the initial years of their career. This causes a lot of job changes as they are in the process of understanding their passion for a particular career. The most successful long-term commitments are achieved after about 3 years in a particular direction and the perceived achievements therein. Recognition of their contributions in the growth of the company adds to their long-term commitment. Thus, engaging them in situations that would enable me to understand their passion keeps me very excited. I have been using this strategy quite successfully over the years and am yet to find a better option.

Jeff Waite: The world is obviously becoming a smaller and more connected place. Given your vast international experience, can you briefly explain why global cooperation and collaboration is now more important than ever?

Dr. Varma: As the world is getting connected due to fast changing technologies, the ability to work in teams has just become globalised. I believe in working towards using strengths and complementing weaknesses. In order to use such a strategy, it is imperative that companies collaborate so that the entire team benefits on the outcome.

Jeff Waite: We have done some very comprehensive primary research over the last few months, reaching out to international stakeholders looking to learn more about India. Increasingly, people are interested in contract manufacturing, but worried about finding a good partner. Can you please explain a few of the things companies looking to partner with contract manufacturing providers in India should consider when they are trying to establish a good fit?

Dr. Varma: Contract manufacturing companies in India are being setup by highly educated individuals with a passion to deliver the best product. In order to achieve quality, quality labour is also essential. Usually, companies look towards India for contract manufacturing only to reduce costs as it is implied that the labour is relatively cheap.

While looking at partners for contract manufacturing in India, the key points that could be considered are:

Management Team passion

Quality processes and consciousness

Ability to contribute towards reducing costs

Flexibility in operations

Operational location

[Editor's Note: We will be following-up on these specific aspects in more detail, with related experts].

Jeff Waite: Like a lot of people, our listeners are concerned with finding the best information or knowledge. Nowadays more than ever, the problem seems to be sorting through the absolutely massive haystack to find a proverbial needle. How do you prefer to stay up to date on important evolving issues?

Dr. Varma: Reading up on trends and looking at opportunities to use the Technology effectively and efficiently in the area of operations. The best way is to first focus on a particular area that needs improvement and then look for Technology that can help you achieve the same.

Jeff Waite: It was an absolute pleasure to have spoken with you today, Dr. Varma. Thanks.

6Jan/110

Merck Moves In

It is always encouraging to see the big players making aggressive moves into a market. The announcement then, that Merck KgaA is setting up an Indian technology centre to provide contract development services for a large range of applications, is exactly what we like to hear. That it's part of an ongoing initiative is even more exciting.

Some of Merck's other innovative initiatives, such as the one below, present very interesting soft opportunities that will also benefit rising executives in emerging markets. And not just in job-specific technical roles. Access to the seasoned experiences of others is something that we predicate our own business on (see: interviews with experts) and another hidden benefit of globalization.

Posted by Jeff

UPDATE: Brought to our attention by our good friend, @andrealmarch is this fantastic Globe and Mail article: Ten tips for success in India

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