10 Areas Where The Bright Pharma Reps Have Gone In The Last 20+ Years


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I started as a pharma guy (still I consider myself to be one) in the early 90s and the kind of learning that gave me has stood me in good stead. During that period the cream of talent joined pharma and we learnt a lot from each other in the market place.  I knew 100s of pharma people from the old times. Only a very few are still around with pharma domestic marketing of formulations today. So I undertook an exercise to find some of those guys whom I respected to see what they are doing and how they are doing. With the current social media networking platforms available and the word of mouth that it can create, it was not very hard to find many of them. We were more than happy to connect, exchange notes and have promised to keep in touch.  Here we go with what I found from my talking to those friends.

#1. Up the ladder in pharma: Let me start with those who still stay in Pharma Industry. They all have gone up the ladder due to their hard work and integrity and stay at the top today in various organizations. But personally when I interact with them, I hear most of them are unhappy. They love what they do. They do not regret staying with the industry, but are not happy about many things. Given a chance, they will get out to do more productive and meaningful things. My discussions with them on those areas are open and shall continue.

#2. Well into IT: As early as mid-90s, some seemed to have learnt about IT and had taken a sabbatical, went back to equip themselves with courses (like NIITs or with a post graduation in IT etc) and had joined IT. There has been no looking back for them. Most of them are well placed with IT today, given that they had learnt a lot of things in Pharma and combined with the domain knowledge of IT, they have done extremely well.

#3. International Marketing: As Pharma exports grew over the years, some had found international opportunity either with their own companies or outside of it, jumped in, learnt a lot by going to various markets and seem to have done extremely well with International assignments. They also have grown well rounded in terms of general management handling these international markets independently and have become matured leaders. I see them heading SBU of API and Formulations of various organizations. They also have been opening up opportunities for others.

#4. Migration: People who have a pharmacy degree (like BPharm or MPharm) seemed to have found attractive offers by migrating to western countries.

#5. Pharma distribution: Some had gone into distribution of domestic Pharma, in or closer to their home-towns, as they did not like the kind of touring that is associated with going-up-the-ladder in the industry.

#6. Pharma C&F: Some had taken C&F kind of opportunities growing up from the distribution platform as in point 5.

#7. Owners of pharma companies: Some had started their own pharma companies by marketing their own brands made from contract manufacturing. Early guys seem to have done well and late entrants seem to have suffered a lot. Both groups do not think they have any future with that. Very complicated it has become, they say. Apart from the newer regulations and uncertainties of markets, it also includes some of the reasons, which I had discussed earlier in my blog posts.

#8. Family business: Some have gone back to family businesses. They seem to be extremely happy for the decision for whatever personal reasons they stated.

#9. Exports and Manufacturing: Growing from point 3, some have done extremely well by opening up shop to export by themselves as trading houses and also some have gone the length to establish their own manufacturing plants and today run a full fledged export-oriented pharma company. This is very satisfying to hear and learn from.

#10. Sales and Marketing with others: Some people have chosen sales and marketing with other verticals like FMCG, hospitals and related healthcare areas. These guys are not very happy but happy enough that they got off from the troubles of the domestic Pharma selling.

This is only my sample. You can look around and share your findings/experiences.

Almost all of them, whom I had spoken to, have promised to keep in touch and are eager to discuss newer opportunities.  That is overwhelming feeling for me.

What is the way forward for Pharma to attract good talent and retain them? I found this excellent article “Is Pharma sales coming of age at last?” explaining how the industry is poised for transformation in the days to come.  Happy reading!!!

Feel free to add your experiences and comments here.

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