Employee Speak: Mr. Amit Kumar Das, Director - Human Resources, Allergan India

Tell us something about Allergan?

Allergan is a global health care company focused on specialty Pharmaceuticals products. Founded in 1950 in US, it is currently headquartered in Irvine, California. Allergan was launched in India in 1995 as a joint venture with Nicholas Piramal. The inspiration for setting up Allergan came from the need to deliver value to the end consumer and to provide an improved and promising future for the life of a patient. The primary business focus of the company is in the Eye care, Aesthetics and Neurosciences areas of specialty pharmaceuticals.

What is Allergan popular for in the Pharma market? What are it's specialty areas?

Allergan is popular in the Pharma for Eye care products and treatment of eye diseases like Glaucoma and Dry Eyes. We are currently the market leader in eye care products and have taken the initiative to create awareness for the various treatments. Over a period of time, Allergan has also become extremely popular for Botox, a patented product, which enjoys 95% of the market share in India. Botox is used for both therapeutic as well as for cosmetology purposes. Botox is also approved for indications like Cerebral palsy, migraine and urinary tract infection to name a few. It is injected only by a trained medical practitioner.

What is your role in the company?

As the Director - Human Resources, I am responsible for developing and executing all the Human Resource policies for the company. Our entire Human Resources team is committed to ensuring an employee-friendly environment where each individual would be provided various opportunities to realize his/her dreams and goals. We partner with the business managers to ensure that the company’s goals and objectives are met.

What are the key challenges that you face in your industry and specifically in your role? 

The Indian Pharma market is characterized by companies with generic products who are quick in copying (or bringing out copies of the) patented products at lower prices and who have a large sales force reaching all corners of the market. Capability building, attraction of right talent, availability of talent pool and retention of employees are some of the high priority challenges for Allergan India. We have institutionalized right processes and taken active measures to address them.

What are some of the best practices in HR that have been implemented in Allergan?

Allergan has established a robust Performance Management System, Capability building and Career development processes. Our global recognition program ‘Hidden Gems’ recognizes excellent performers in the organization and the selected employees are flown to California to be a part of the recognition ceremony which is part of Allergan Quarterly meeting. Individuals who contribute significantly in any specific assignment or project are rewarded with Excellence Award and cash incentive. Employees who have been in the system for more than 5 years, also receive awards for their hard-work and commitment to the company. We also have excellent employee development initiatives.

What are some of the employee development initiatives?

Learning has been given a great deal of importance in Allergan. We have institutionalized the Allergan India Learning Resources Centre and Allergan Institute of Management to increase the competence level of the employees. We have also put in place a process to ascertain the knowledge level of the field sales team. Regular tests are administered to check if the sales executives keep abreast of the recent pharma industry developments. A knowledge allowance is also provided to them if they perform extremely well. The training programs are categorized as:


Integrate - focuses on bringing the new team together

Improve- focuses on capability building of the team

We believe that learning has to start from the time one joins the company. Hence the training provided at that stage covers all the basic aspects of selling and product knowledge with specific programs like Torque and Momentum. Torque is a fast-track 3-day program and Momentum is a 16-day product training program for new joinees. The intensity of the training programs increases as the employee moves up the ladder, focusing more on acquisition of essential competencies for the next role.

Tell us something about the real-time data capture software at Allergan.

‘Envision electronic reporting’ (PDA) was introduced to track and capture real-time data from the Sales executives who make regular sales calls with medical practitioners. The field sales executive carries a PDA which has a list of doctors that he/she has to meet. Once the meeting is complete, he/she updates the PDA. These details get captured onto the main database.

How significant are Research and Development activities for Allergan?

In this growing age of incurable diseases, it is vital for any Pharma company to pursue and continuously do research on new cures for diseases. We invest a great deal in research and development because that’s what we believe will give us our edge over other pharma competitors. Every year, the investment spent on R & D has been significantly increasing and will continue to increase in the years to come. The kind of Product pipeline we have is a matter of envy for all our competitors. We also have a Clinical research set up in Bangalore, India.

What do you think are some of the key success factors of Allergan India?

Allergan India is the acknowledged leader in the eye care segment with roughly 21% market share. Low input costs and customized formulation for Indian markets have also helped us to sustain large volume production. Our competitive advantage over other Pharma companies in India is the trained, knowledgeable and motivated field personnel. Precisely this is the reason for us investing heavily in development and empowerment of our employees. World-class infrastructure and use of innovative technology cannot be discounted from our success factors.

What are some of the future plans for the company?

The company plans to rapidly move into the health care segment with emphasis on Botox. We intend to introduce state-of-the art products for reducing morbid obesity in individuals. We will continue to leverage our expertise in R&D activities to create new and better products for consumers and ensure an improved life for them.