“Plan for the bad when the going is good”
When I failed: Between 2000 and 2008, our revenue grew from $40 million to $450 million. We also concluded several out-licensing deals of our novel molecules. But 2008 was different. We were hit by a storm we didn’t anticipate. The recession impacted sales and receivables across the globe. Alongside, our out-licensed molecules did not meet their primary end point in human trials. Moreover, our fixed costs remained high because we had invested in infrastructure across countries . Our growth plans had hit a major roadblock. What I learnt: Uncertainty is a given. So one needs to factor it in while charting growth plans. It is important to prioritise keeping in mind the vision of the organisation. During the recession, we had to conserve cash and manage debt. So we put fresh capital expenditure and acquisitions on hold but continued to invest in drug discovery. This was contrary to the worldwide trend of slashing R&D spends. The decision paid off. Not only did more molecules progress to clinical trials, we also concluded one more outlicensing deal in 2010. In these tough years, we also got sense of the commitment of our employees to the organisation. How it helped me succeed: When I took over as the CEO, we had only witnessed phenomenal growth year after year. At the age of 38, for the first time, I witnessed a crisis of this magnitude. It was a learning of a lifetime. Glenmark is definitely a stronger organisation than before. I realised that for every few exceptional years there will come a bad year. So plan for that year when the going is good. The bad years are the ones that mould an organisation and make it stronger.