Self-Made, Self-Disciplined and Ambitious

Satish Mehta of Emcure Pharma is looking at execution, new product launches and strategic acquisitions

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Satish Mehta, MD & CEO, Emcure Pharma is currently having a moment under the sun. Emcure’s subsidiary, Gennova, is developing India’s first indigenously developed mRNA COVID-19 vaccine that is currently undergoing phase II and phase III trials. Mehta is confident about meeting the said target of 60 million doses by the end of 2021, despite the logistics challenges. The company is working towards backward integration of its operations to help de-risk the supply chain.

Emcure Pharma

From starting the pharmaceutical company with a bank loan of just INR 3 lakh to making it a billion-dollar enterprise that operates in over 70 countries, Mehta reminisces on his defining moments. “There have been many over the years, but the one that stands above the rest was my decision to take the entrepreneurial plunge back in the 80s completely on my own. It has been the most defining moment in my professional journey.”

The other significant is, “Our decision to develop an mRNA vaccine platform. Besides our COVID-19 vaccine, we also have other vaccines which are in development stages on our mRNA platform, for zoster, zika and rabies,” he said.

“I have always set aggressive targets for myself but I have also ensured that these were achievable goals. Coming from a business family, I was open to taking risks. But my MBA taught me to take calculated risks by evaluating opportunities, analysing possible outcomes, being prepared to make course correction if required and that made a difference.”

Also, Mehta’s leadership style has led to Emcure scaling the heights it has reached today. “Where we are today is by making decisions based on consensus after internal discussions with our board and my team. Everything is discussed in detail before a decision is approved.”

Emcure is the 12th largest pharma company in India. He adds, “Initially, we had started with chemistry products. Over the years, with our inclination towards innovation and R&D, we added biologics to our portfolio. Today we are working on products which require cutting-edge technology, including mRNA vaccines.”

The seasoned entrepreneur has some very interesting learnings to share. Says Mehta, “One must hire people smarter than themselves. One, they can be assuredly given tasks to excel, and hence grow your business. Secondly, they bring a lot of learnings to the table. Even at this point in my career I am learning from others.”

“People management between various stakeholders is also very important. For the team to thrive, one has to ensure that all the constituents are able to work together. Any conflicts that arise must be resolved amicably. All of this while keeping in mind the desired results that have to be achieved.”

“One must always keep looking for new opportunities and markets. Having a good team helps you make informed choices, which clubbed with your entrepreneurial instincts enables you to take timely and fruitful decisions.”

“The industry is constantly evolving. One must keep upgrading themselves and also their larger team to stay ahead,” he adds.

However, the pandemic did not permit him to study new skills. “As an essential services company, we had to quickly get back on our feet. Adapting digitisation early on allowed us to ensure business continuity and fulfil our commitments towards our customers, employees and the communities we serve.”

There is no stopping this septuagenarian who already has a massive mission ahead of him.  On the strategies for growth he says, “We will continue to invest in R&D and manufacturing capabilities, with a focus on improving vertical integration to achieve greater control over our product quality, supply chain and operating costs. We intend to make substantial investments directed towards manufacturing capabilities for novel drug delivery systems, to facilitate the launch of new biologics in the global markets and transitioning to commercial mRNA vaccine production.”

“We intend to continue to pursue strategic acquisitions of companies, products and facilities across key markets as well as in-license pharmaceutical products. We also intend to increase our focus on hospitals and pharmacy chains as well as in rural and semi-rural parts, where we believe there is a significant growth potential.”