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Abhijit Zutshi

Our Global Commercial Head – Generic Formulations, Abhijit highlights the process of setting up an affiliate in the US.

Abhijit Zutshi

I truly believe that this phase has definitely fostered a culture of entrepreneurship and a culture of ownership within the company.”

Can you take us through your initial years in the company? Any learnings from the time that have held you in good stead over the years?

I joined the company 19 years back, as a qualified pharmacist with a Master’s in business. I had worked in Pfizer as a Sales Representative before joining Biocon. Back then, the marketing department at Biocon was still fledging and was centred around enzymes and APIs. There were no defined roles in the marketing department. This meant that each of us rolled up our sleeves and got into the thick of things. From pins to planes, everyone did everything! Whether it was production allocation, supply chain planning, sampling checks, documentation or client servicing, we just did what we had to so as to meet our goals. This was an incredibly humbling experience while also a great learning platform. I truly believe that this phase has definitely fostered a culture of entrepreneurship and a culture of ownership within the company.

To start off, could you take us through your responsibilities at Biocon?

I joined Biocon in 2001 and I currently manage the global commercial operations for our generics formulation business. My team is responsible for the business development, sales and marketing of our generic formulations globally.

 

Your growth within the company is quite remarkable. Would you be able to walk us through your career path please?

Yes, the growth has been rapid but I do think it has been organic as well. Between 2002 and 2006, I was the back-office support for my manager at the time. I gained immense experience meeting clients and learning about the North America market. In 2006, I was asked to relocate to the US and set up the Biocon affiliate. I started in a home office and soon rented a small office space with just four rooms! One each for Biocon, Syngene and Clinigene and one was a meeting room! We saw phenomenal growth and established our brand equity and a credible, quality supply chain. We built from one strength to the next. Over the years, I have been involved in forging global alliances for the company and today Biocon has made inroads into Latin America, UK and even China (through a partner).

 

What do you think are the core strengths of the company?

I feel the key to our success is that we decided to focus on our strengths. When everyone was looking at ANDA’s, Biocon was thinking of biosimilars. Six years ago we took the call to move up the value chain. Instead of leaving money on the table with our complex API’s, we decide to focus on vertical integration so as to better control our destiny and create a business model for both to co-exist. We have also hired exceptional talent. Our story in the US is compelling as it revolves around creating affordable access to complex medications in a reliable and safe way. Supply chain is another competitive advantage for Biocon.

 

Any particularly challenging moments?

The launch of generics in North America was one of my most challenging times. It was my first exposure in that market. I had to understand the regulation, hire talent, manage distribution channels, and had to get it up and running. I truly believe that we have demonstrated the value proposition of affordable access and supply chain continuity we bring to this market.

The key to our success is that we decided to focus on our strengths.

What drives you?

Our job involves making a difference in people’s life by creating access to complex medications, and this is a huge driver. Our customers have given us overwhelmingly positive feedback and this is a tremendous endorsement. Biocon Biologics is doing a lot of work to create and increase affordable access to insulin in this country. I can relate to this topic personally because my mother is also diabetic and I appreciate how important it is for patients to not skip an insulin dose.

 

Your most memorable interaction at Biocon?

I have a very vivid recollection of my interaction with our CMD in 2002. We were on the same flight to the USA. Over a cup of coffee, she connected with me and provided me with some important inputs for my meetings and moreover followed up on my progress on my return to India. The approachability of the top management in the company is what sets this place apart. Everyone is willing to help to get the job done.

 

What is your leadership style?

Your team is everything. The kind of talent you hire today is what defines your company tomorrow. I lead from the front and then take a back seat and watch my team run forward. I hand hold team members until they are ready to take charge, like a watchful parent letting go of children to gather their own moments of learning and clarity.

 

Any leaders you have found particularly inspiring?

Most of us who work here are truly inspired by our CMD and she is a global leadership brand in herself. I would also like to mention a few people here who have inspired me to be what I am today. I personally enjoyed working with the former Chief Executive Officer of Biocon. His leadership style was unique – it was focused on invoking a thought process in you. Another person I like in terms of his leadership is our current CEO and MD. He is decisive and that is definitely something one looks for in a leader.

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