Host: Hello everyone!!
This is your host, Rohan Tandel from Innohealth Magazine Studio. I welcome you to this podcast produced by InnovatioCuris, with a mission to spread awareness and knowledge of various facets of Healthcare Innovation.
This podcast is second in the series ‘Voices of ICInnovator’ from InnoHEALTH magazine, the first magazine in India on healthcare innovations. In this series, we would be exploring the essence of the ICInnovatorCLUB through the club members’ perspectives.
Today, we are going to have a conversation with our guest speaker Mr. Mukul Bagga who has over 3 decades of experience in the healthcare industry across sectors like pharmaceuticals, diagnostics & medical devices.
Mr. Mukul is currently Managing Director for Medicom Healthcare India – a UK-based pharmaceuticals company.
Before this, he was Managing Director at Quest Diagnostics India Pvt. Ltd.
Welcome, Mr. Mukul to our podcast. How are you today sir?
Mr. Bagga: I’m Good, thank you for having me on this podcast.
Host: Amazing, so
Now getting to the podcast, Let me elaborate on the flow of this podcast. I would be asking you a series of questions and we may discuss your views and opinions.
So, let us begin…
Learning is a continuous process but for some life & career lessons take years to make a realization about it, we all feel as though our career or life would have been different or better had we learned it before.
1. So, What is that one thing or a lesson that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
Mr. Bagga: Good question, a couple of things crossed my mind.
First would be the importance of networking is something that you realize as your career progresses and if I look back 30 years we didn’t have the kind of resources and technology that you folks have now. Now you have platforms like LinkedIn where you can efficiently and professionally network. SO when I look back I feel I lost a lot of time building networks. And I see a lot of youngsters reaching out in their Educational phase, so I can see that today’s generation started young on this and I think that’s very good quality.
Another thing if I may just point out in terms would be my effectiveness as a leader, I think building empathy with your team and colleagues is very crucial. And I’ll give you a context, you know when you are young and want to get things done, you are in a hurry to grow, ambitious, full of energy and enthusiasm and you are driving a project, you know the typical mindset is that whoever comes in the way whether its colleague, subordinates who are in the way, you want to shoot them down hypothetically speaking, or say jump ahead of them. So in the process, you tend to use some tools that might eventually damage your relationship with them. You think you are doing the right thing in the interest of the project or say organization but actually, you are doing damage to the long-term relationship that you have and which ultimately is detrimental to the organization and the team. So it is always important that you can take the team with you, don’t try to run too far ahead, and try to balance out and wait some time for others. Don’t burn your relationships. So that’s what I would say.
Host: Yeah true sir, building a good career we should not break our networks/relationships and severe them away. So, Coming to our next question,
Through our career, we come across many resources which help us get through various situations in life but not all of them have an extraordinary impact or say had a major influence so what I would like to ask is
2. What are the resources that had a major influence on you as a professional or as an individual??
Mr. Bagga: So the resources that I would like to enumerate one is the exposure that I gained in companies like j&j and Novartis where they allow you to launch global brands network with global teams and give you chance to participate in global forums and at that time India was pretty cut off from rest of the world in term of international travel or interaction and also the internet was just opening up. So that kind of exposure helped us to get a global vision of how things could be. I still remember how countries like Thailand and Indonesia had 5-10x business that the whole country like India had. We thought we were doing fantastic. But when we heard those numbers we were mesmerized. I think that exposure helped me grow.
Another resource would be when you work with professional organizations is they allow you to have a lot of professional development by sending you for developmental programs. I recall one such program which I attended in ‘Tuck Business School’ at Dartmouth college in the US and we had a 1-week emersion where we had senior leaders from across the Novartis world who came together and one of the most important takeaway which I think which helped me in my professional career was the importance of influence skills and how I mean this is again connecting with the empathy factor that it’s not just about you know sending an email or trying to achieve an objective but how you can influence the people around you in the organization be it junior, senior, or your peers so that overall objective of the organization is achieved.
Host: True sir, I would agree with you on that point sir.
Apart from resources, we also come across various personalities, and in this age of seamless connectivity we are exposed to an infinite number of amazing personalities, but from those millions of personalities there are a few who impact our lives – the ones we idolize which bring me to my question
3. Which person or say Who are the people you idolize and why?
Mr. Bagga: I would rather not say idolize, I love to read autobiographies and have read many both in healthcare and outside healthcare. And in healthcare in India few of them inspired me I can share like the ‘The story of the founder of the Arvind Eye hospital system’ which is one of the largest eye hospital system in the world and how selfless US-based eye surgeon came back and set up this whole network, it is a beautiful story in this book.
There is another one where which is about Dilip Singhvi who founded Sun Pharma who started as a small humble distributor and then came up to be the Managing Director and of course the owner of the largest pharmaceutical company in India. So these are personalities that are inspiring you from different walks of life. You read their autobiography you don’t idolize them exactly but rather want to learn things they did which perhaps you can replicate in your life.
On a practical and realistic note, it’s important to have role models and many times the boss you work with becomes your role model and obviously, if you have a toxic relationship you would quit sooner then later but if it’s a relationship where you are learning that is the best kind of partnership you can have where you learn from your boss and enables you to keep a continuous learning journey in the organization.
So 2 people I would recall are my boss at J&J his name was Sanjiv Dani current COO at Aurobindo and another person is Simon Martin who is the founder of Medicom Healthcare. Both of them taught me the importance of critical thinking in terms of informed decision-making.
Host: I would agree with that point mentor-mentee relationship is very vital for building a career and following a person that we know and attempting to improve through a person that we know. Coming to the next question.
4. Talking about careers, many people face various hardships so I would like to know some of the hardships you faced in your career and how you found inspiration from such situations?
Mr. Bagga: Yes so this is I think this very important learning that you need to have in your career because there is no career with only success in it so the learning through the journey and how you use it to grow further and climb further is rather more important. And if I could pick 3 phases out of my career the 1st,2nd, and 3rd decade of my career. I would start with the incident/situation at J&J where I was working as a marketing head in the pharmaceutical division. SO because we had tasted success with a few products management is always in the mood to try and test your limits a little more so a project which was very close to the heart of our regional management – the success of our anti-cancer product but was not doing well in India due to it being expensive and other reasons. And he was somehow not happy with the team that was doing it during that time. So he just threw the ball at me and said that Mukul if you can get this product going it would be considered a great success for the Indian Organization, so it was no matter of personal prestige but also of our Indian organization. The point was that the going rate was 10 lakh Rs. a month and the expected rate was 5x which was to be done in the short term of 6-8 months left ahead. So we put our heart and soul into this. One of the very important innovations that we did during that period was to recruit doctors as medical representatives, they were called product specialist, and when these guys went to talk to doctors they got much more time and respect which resulted in getting a product difficult to sell a lot more traction. So I think such challenges push you and your innovation, as it is said necessity is the mother of innovation which makes you think out of the box. I think it was a great learning experience for me.
Another interesting experience came up when I was at Novartis, our business unit for ophthalmic was doing pretty well but there was a global reorganization that happened when Novartis happen to acquire Alcon so they were reshuffling the whole portfolio and they decided that part of the portfolio that we had was to be shifted out so basically the product portfolio that was left with me was very small, the team was very small so it was a little back of setback personally because you feel your team size and portfolio was small but the core team that remained with me were determined to perform like any other business unit and which resulted in us winning the best business unit in the company for that year. This was a great feeling that after the setback we were standing on the podium and receiving the award and all the blood and sweat paid off.
A more recent experience was as a Managing Director of quest where I was given the mandate to grow the company, invest in the company build up Quest and as we know that Quest is the No.1 player in pathology testing in the US and with a vision to try and be as big in India, and you start building it up and suddenly the management rethink and they feel India is too small and too risky and they want to exit India. So all the effort that was put in by the team were in vain and it was heartbreaking and a lot of people lost job including me. So yes that was another setback and how you come out of that in a way that you can be positive and grow professionally and keep ongoing.
Host: True sir, having hardship is one thing but exploring and experiences that we gain from it, are way more valuable. And coming out of it we get to be successful in those endeavors it would give oneself immense pleasure. So coming to my next question,
5. Besides your current profession, what profession would you like to explore?
Mr. Bagga: So one thing which is close to my heart is creative writing. During our time creative writing meant journalism but you know I felt like I always had a book hidden inside of me, I want to somewhere write my experiences down and share them. Also, I contribute writing on different forums and enjoy it a lot.
Host: True Sir, I would like to read that book when it comes out.
Mr. Bagga: Hopefully it would come out soon.
Host: Yeah sir, I’ll be staying in contact for the same.
Coming to my next question,
6. What makes you feel your best self/ Rejuvenates you from the daily workload and stress??
Mr. Bagga: So a few years back I picked up the hobby of running which helped to sort of lift me and gives me an amazing start of the day. I must have run over 30-40 half marathons by now, I used to run 5-6 every year, but now of course we are unable to do that as those events cannot happen. But this is something that keeps me going, keeps my day going very well.
Host: That’s a great hobby sir, now
7. Talking about the ICInnovatorClub I would like to ask what it means for you to be a member of ICInnovatorCLUB??
Mr. Bagga: I think it has been a very enriching experience, because not only have I got to mentor a few people being involved in a lot of panel discussion and presentation but also to learn from seniors like Dr. V.K Singh etc who themselves are real seasoned veterans in this field. So this opportunity to mentor and to learn has been very enriching for me. Most important is the focus on innovation as this is not just a normal startup incubator, I am associated with other startup incubators but this is not the run of the mill. The focus is on innovation and how we are going to get the innovation cutting across various segments of healthcare. So that is what I enjoy.
8. Moving ahead, I would like to ask what are the functions that this club performs and how does it help a member to grow as an individual?
Mr. Bagga: I think the forum that they create serves 2-3 useful purposes, there is knowledge sharing, experience sharing, there is networking where I have seen various aspiring entrepreneurs attending the forums then reaching out to you and keeping in touch post the forum, etc. And of course, the knowledge pool that is created I think I have seen Sachin Gaur & Dr, V.K Singh coming up with very new topics like data privacy & cybersecurity, so it is like cutting edge of what is happening in technology & healthcare.
Host: True sir, Coming to my next question,
9. What does innovation mean to you considering the healthcare industry?
Mr. Bagga: See innovation, if I look at pharmaceutical or devices it’s the lifeblood, these are the industries which are the most vital and innovative. Medicine is created out of nothing, it is all science slowly building up till it reaches a point where you have a problem like cancer and you are trying to find a solution for the same and you come up with a medicine out of the whole process of trial, evolution, and testing, etc. So this is what one could say intellectual property and that is innovation. So innovation that is recognized in intellectual property & either monetized or not depends on the model you are working with. So whether it is pharmaceutical or medical device both are fields where intellectual property is at the heart of it. Whereas healthcare services are where all this is utilized or say applied, so they don’t do innovation in an intellectual property sense but it is more around the application of all this.
Now we see 4th dimension coming up say Machine Learning, AI, where technology is qualifying for intellectual property. And all of this coming together could only help to improve the outcome of healthcare and enrich the lives of patients.
Host: That was a great answer, well versed. For the last question, I would like to ask
10. Where can our listeners connect to you?
The link for connecting with our guest Mr. Mukul are:
Mr. Bagga: I am happy to respond on this platform and if you are a budding entrepreneur or student you are most welcome.
Host: With this, we come to the end of our podcast and I would like to thank Mr. Mukul Bagga for joining us in this podcast. Thank you, sir.
Mr. Bagga: Thank you Innohealth Magazine for this opportunity to share this, I hope it would be helpful to some of you out there.
Host: Sure, sir, the interview was quite insightful I believe our viewers would benefit from the views and experience shared by you.
To conclude I would also like to call out to our audience to leave a comment with a review and let us know whether you liked the podcast. Dropdown a comment if you have any podcast ideas or recommendations. You can also connect with us if you have a healthcare innovation journey of your own to be a part of our podcast series. And for more such content on healthcare and innovation visit Innohealthmagazine.com. Stay Safe, Goodbye from your host Rohan Tandel from the Innohealth Magazine Studio.
“Composed by: Rohan Tandel”