Unlike many of his pharma peers, Vivek Sharma worked in operations and finance for two decades before joining the life sciences industry as head of Piramal Pharma Solutions (PPS) in 2011. Already established as one of the world’s leading CDMOs with a presence in North America, Europe, and Asia, Sharma has helped take PPS to new heights.
The company doubled the size of its business over the past three years and added more customers during this period than over the preceding eight years, while Sharma was recognized as “CEO of the Year” at the CPhI awards in 2015.
“In the grand scheme of things, PPS’s eye-catching performance is above all due to the outstanding efforts of our 4,000+ employees. My role is to steer our people’s energy and expertise in the right direction, so we present a united front when pursuing our main goal: ensuring patients can benefit from medicines developed and manufactured by Piramal,” humbly highlights Vivek Sharma.
From an executive standpoint, holding a different background has seemingly revealed in itself a very precious advantage: “I was able to assess our operations from a different standpoint than if I had always worked in this industry,” he explains. “Since I took over, we divested assets that were not perfectly aligned with our development vision while integrating new capabilities through a handful of acquisitions. In the meantime, we re-organized our team with the objective of increasing our commercial performance, and I truly believe that my background has helped me successfully drive our company through these structural changes,” he continues.
PPS has conducted several strategic acquisitions under his tenure – including those of Coldstream Laboratories and Ash Stevens – and the CDMO industry at large has been particularly active in terms of M&A deals over recent years. Leveraging his expertise in finance and M&A, in terms of what Sharma looks for in potential acquisitions, “Targeted capabilities emerge as a key parameter to look out for, but I believe that human capital is the most crucial aspect to consider. In this context, I assess if the mindset of the people heading the targeted company could fit within Piramal’s customer centric model, so we can operate as one single organization moving forward. At the end of the day, in terms of operations, the capabilities you may acquire are just as good as the people that have been managing these assets…” he says.
This aspect is particularly important in a regulated industry like the pharmaceutical sector, where compliance and reliability are absolutely paramount. “The service industry is above all a relationship business: customers choose and remain loyal to a given partner because the latter have earned their trust. To be a successful service provider in the pharmaceutical sector implies fostering a subtle chemistry both internally and externally – that’s the main driving force behind customer acquisition and retention,” he concludes.