Kiran, Commercial management (Pharmaceuticals), India
My name is Kiran, I'm from India and I joined the Future Leaders programme in 2015. I’m a graduate in mechanical engineering, but I’m on the Global Pharma Commercial Future Leaders programme.
Learning to be a Future Leader
My first rotation was as a sales rep in Vaccines, where I went through 20 days of rigorous training to make sure that I understood the science behind our vaccine products. As I said I'm an engineer, so it was quite difficult for me. I had never paid attention to a rep actually going to a doctor, but I was doing exactly that. I was trained thoroughly on the products to make sure that the right information went to the doctor and that they could help the patient get the right vaccine. It was a culture shock for me and a completely new experience. I was posted to a very small town; a hot place where the temperatures are around 47 degrees during the summer. You had to dress smartly and behave properly, but just imagine wearing a formal suit in that heat! Sometimes, you have just one minute or maybe only a few seconds to talk about your medicine and how it can bring value to a patient's life. It was quite an interesting challenge for me and definitely took me out of my comfort zone.
I then joined GSK’s headquarters in Mumbai for my marketing stint. I got an opportunity to co-launch a product, which doesn't happen often in the pharmaceutical world. It's a new vaccine for India, a phenomenal vaccine: four antigens in one. I was involved in the focus group discussions, market research, working with the creative agencies, and developing promotional materials for the sales force. It was a very rare opportunity. I was very much a part of the strategy formulation and execution as well: how do you actually launch a product? Immediately after my marketing stint I moved on to my First Line Sales Leader role where I had to don a different hat and execute the strategy by taking the very same product to the customers. It was interesting for me to be on the other side of the table, leading the field force and motivating them to execute the strategy.
My current role is as a Global Commercial Transformation Business Support Manager. Again, it’s a very interesting and different role. My team drives the successful embedding of the commercial transformation initiatives; specifically, in terms of GSK global digital channels such as the Health Care Professionals portal, webinar and email. The first three months of my role was primarily deploying these channels or technology into 44 countries. Earlier, a rep would go to the doctor and have a verbal conversation and that was the doctor’s main source of information about a product. Now, we are changing our ways of working so doctors have the opportunity to access information from GSK from anywhere at any time that helps them to give patients the right medicine.
I think GSK is one of the few companies that take people development seriously. I've never seen such a structured programme, nor this flexibility to explore diverse roles.
During college, GSK came to my campus. I sat through the presentation and the two things that struck me were their values, integrity and respect for people, as both are important to me personally. The other thing that really impressed me was the FLP programme’s structure, especially the rotations. They showed how through 10 years of career progression, you could become quite senior in the commercial group. None of the other companies I came across offered that kind of clarity.
I think GSK is one of the few companies that take people development seriously. I've never seen such a structured programme, nor the flexibility to explore diverse roles. There’s also a huge number of resources available online for self-development.
I aspire to become a commercial leader, a general manager of a country. A smaller country to start with, and then probably a bigger one, once I’ve gained more experience. In the short-term, I would like to spend the next three to five years getting more in-depth experience in marketing and sales, and different therapy areas because up until now I’ve worked mainly in vaccines.
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