“There have been many joyful times when I and my team felt at our joyful or remarkable best. But one moment that stands out is entering into pharmaceuticals and building that business up,” stated Ajay Piramal, Chairman Piramal Group in a discussion with Anil Sachdev, Founder & Chairman of SOIL Institute of Management.
At that particular moment, the business was majorly into textiles and the whole textile industry was going through a challenging time. In 1987, the business started looking at the pharma business ad by 1988 they acquired a small MNC in India called Nicholas Laboratories. For the next 20 years, their pharma business became a formidable one, rising to 3rd rank in 2010. What was joyful about the whole experience was that they entered into a new business, learned about it, and the excitement of growing it was very joyful.
Also, the core mission of a pharma business is to alleviate human suffering and reduce the burden of disease. It’s always a nice and satisfying mission to work for. Rising to the challenge, practicing value-based management was another factor that added joy to the whole experience.
Ajay was speaking on how you can become a better version of yourself. Here are some key takeaways from the webinar:
Take the path less traveled
Sharing on what enabled the business, Ajay said that the dive into the pharma business was a story in entrepreneurship, and in order to be successful as an entrepreneur, you have to take the path less traveled. People questioned the move but if you believe in something and understand the risks on the path less traveled, you should take the plunge. Unless you take risks, you won’t succeed as an entrepreneur.
Also, you have to run on values in order to succeed. It is your value that makes all the difference to your success and creates economic value.
Every challenge is an opportunity
Talking about challenges, Ajay shared no one is immune from them. He spoke of his tough time when his father passed away. Ajay was just 24 at that time. That same year, the business was beset by a textile strike that lasted almost 18 months. At the height f the strike, his elder brother who was the Chairman, also succumbed to cancer at the young age of 34. Ajay was struggling both with personal loss and with a business that was going downhill but he came out successfully on account of his foray into pharma. Thus in challenges, also lie opportunities and when one door closes, another one opens.
Responding to COVID-19 challenge- Relook and Reimagine
Sharing how he interprets the COVID-19 challenge, Ajay shared when you take a flight, the take-off is not under your, the landing is not under your control nor is the turbulence under your control. The only thing you can control is your own self. Hence most of the time, we cannot control the environment around us, we have to recognize that this too shall pass.
The current crisis is enormous but what we can do is focus and ensure that first of all, people are safe. This is also a time when you have to manage the balance sheet. Forget about profitability, focus on will you remain solvent? You have to look at your business to maintain liquidity- by either raising funding or cutting capital expenditure. You also have to look at how you can reimagine your business, become much more efficient and resilient.
It’s time to invest in self
Allaying fears around whether people should invest in their education right now given the uncertainty in the job scenario, Ajay believes it’s the best time to invest in oneself. The future requires people to be more agile and not restricted to a single role. If you are well equipped, then you are going to be better positioned to take advantage of future opportunities.
Skills for the future
Ajay believes first and foremost, one should focus a lot on personal development and character. That’s the only thing which will remain with you in a changing world. A solid foundation is a must. Understanding and becoming familiar with technology is a must. Understanding consumers and the basics of finance are also very important. Most importantly, one has to be much more open to learning such as the world is adapting to digital today.