OctoberThe Clarion Culture
AugustOutstanding performance led by entrepreneurial culture
JulyGoing Green With myClaris
Claris' Arjun Handa - “Young & Restless” - Says Forbes
Forbes India Magazine ; July, 2010
Young & Restless - Claris Lifesciences’ Arjun Handa, the youngest visitor to Zen Garden, says, in the absence of experience, one can still learn through introspection - as revealed to Mr Subroto Bagchi, Co-founder & Gardener – Mindtree Ltd
Frustration in dealing with people is a very dangerous quality to have. If you are ambitious, you need to have the art of dealing with people. When the right deal comes along, you need to listen to your gut. And the gut is trainable.
After finishing school, Arjun went on to study commerce. After finishing college at 21, he joined Claris as a director. That was exactly 10 years ago. Claris had 45 employees and a turnover of Rs. 35 crore. Arjun worked hard, really hard — sometimes three consecutive shifts to understand how quality could vary when shifts changed. In the injectables business, quality is a matter of life and death. Then one day, he decided to go to Northeastern University in USA to do his MBA. In 2004 he returned, and from then on the real story of Claris starts.
“I focused on new product development. I had to ramp up people, invest in training, set up clear-cut processes and so on. New product development was my first technical department in Claris and even today, it is the biggest growth driver for Claris. After that, I became the COO and went on to sales. I travelled from Sudan to Sri Lanka, to Africa, US, Europe and understood sales thoroughly and then took it over in totality. Between me and my brother Aditya, we really took over the company. He was the CFO and I was the COO. Growth was our top priority. In 2008, Aditya decided to start his own renewable energy company. Dad moved on and I took on the reins.”
Claris flourished. In the year ending December 2009, sales touched Rs. 759 crore with profits of Rs. 124 crore and its injectable products — from anesthesia to blood, nutrition to anti-infectives — got to 78 countries, making it a dominant player in the business. But Arjun Handa’s coup was the day he bagged a deal with Pfizer through which his products would now be branded and sold by Pfizer worldwide.
I want to know from him what goes into building the capacity to cut such deals.
“Two things clearly come to my mind. For one, I have always wondered why companies like Glaxo can sell something at $100, whereas I could sell it at only $3. I was curious about these large companies and I used to go and meet people in these companies. I was in touch with these industry leaders and constantly analysing their business strategies. I would read every analyst report and listen in to their quarterly earning calls. Because of this, I came to understand them and could even make out what they were thinking.
“The second learning is about the deal making process itself. When the right deal comes along, you need to listen to your gut. There are inherent apprehensions in any deal. Answers to questions like ‘Should I do it or not, is it worth doing, what would happen next’, are all about the gut. I have come to believe that the gut is trainable. In making critical choices, you need an emotional evocation.”
Hmmm. Very wise. My mind shifts to another question. Here is a man who studied commerce; I wonder how he is able to herd the geeks and the nerds in a science-intensive business.
“Geeks are motivated by things that might not be entirely conducive to business. So one has to play a balancing role; one needs to navigate them towards the fact that only certain ideas can be invested in. It does sometimes cause consternation in people but I learnt early in life that frustration in dealing with people is a very dangerous quality to have.”
Okay, that makes sense. But I wonder how does he know so much? Where is his reflective space and how does he stay above moments of self-doubt that must come with the size of his responsibilities?
“Sometime back, I started the practice of a reading holiday. I get away to an unusual new place for a few days, all by myself and just read there. Nothing else, just read. I took a book and spent a few days in Paris sitting by a roadside café and reading. Another time, I went off to Macau. I am not caught by the touristic attraction of such places. It is amazing how the mind quiets down, how from that silence, unusual new thoughts, ideas and directions take shape. Now I have decided to do it twice a year.”
And what about the balance?
“When you are an ambitious person, but are at an age when you have not seen life enough, you get things thrown at you without your knowing how to respond to them. I learnt that it is important for you to have scale to be able to absorb these issues without your business and your life being adversely affected by them. I also learnt that one can grow and learn through introspection also. It is a faster and surer way to grow if you think right. “To balance life and perform consistently and sustainably, you need to do what you like, you need to do it right, and you need to understand the inherent contradictions of life and build excellence regardless. Given the dynamic changing world and India today, it is very easy for a person to go into the wrong direction.” It is time to go. I look into the soft, determined eyes. Like Arjun’s in the Mahabharata, his seem set on the right thing.
JuneFitch ups India's Claris Lifesciences to A-(ind); Otlk stbl
Reuters , Mon, 21 Jun 18:50 PM IST
Fitch Ratings has today upgraded India-based Claris Lifesciences Ltd's (Claris) National Long-term rating to 'A-(ind)' from 'BBB+(ind)'. The Outlook is 'Stable'. The agency has also upgraded Claris' INR1.52bn long-term loans (enhanced from INR1.49bn) and its INR1.81bn fund-based cash credit limits to 'A-(ind)' from 'BBB+(ind)'. Fitch has simultaneously affirmed Claris' INR175m fund-based limits and INR640m non-fund based limits at 'F2+(ind)'.
The upgrades reflect Claris' strong revenue and profitability visibility in high-margin regulated markets as well as its comfortable credit metrics and established domestic and emerging market businesses. The ratings continue to factor in the company's strong focus on the pharma injectable business.
During CY09, despite the decline in domestic and emerging market sales, the decline in Claris' overall revenues was capped by increased sales to the regulated markets. Owing to discontinuance in sales of a few low-margin products and a change in its business model in the emerging markets, Claris reported a decline in sales in the domestic and emerging markets by 10.2% and 22.8%, respectively. However, regulated market sales on the back of commercialization of four Abbreviated New Drug Applications (ANDA) , the company's business agreement with Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) ('AA-'/Stable/'F1+') and additional product registrations in Europe grew to INR1410m in CY09 (CY08: INR328m). This along with a reduction in certain costs translated into an increase in operating profitability margins. Claris' net profit increased to INR1.25bn in CY09 (CY08: INR1.08bn). Fitch expects strong revenue and profitability growth from sales to regulated markets through its arrangement with Pfizer Inc., and from its own sales to the regulated markets. This is expected to come from increased registrations of ANDAs, registrations in the European Union, getting into newer technologies/therapies like oncology, pre filled syringes and lyophilizations, The agency further expects Claris' emerging market business to benefit from the approvals for certain products as well as entrance into new countries.
Fitch notes that during CY09, Claris reported an improvement in its liquidity position, with the cash conversion cycle improving to 114 days from 135 days (CY08). This was a result of the licensing income received as part of its agreement with Pfizer Inc, along with the measures undertaken to improve its working capital. Fitch expects Claris' liquidity to continue to remain comfortable and to further strengthen by the successful completion of Claris's INR3000m IPO, expected during CY10-CY11. The IPO money would be utilised for funding Claris' capex plans and the retirement of certain debt.
Positive rating triggers for the company's short term rating include a successful completion of the company's IPO, which would result in a further improvement in its credit metrics and overall credit profile. Negative rating triggers include a debt/EBITDA exceeding 2.0x on a consistent basis going forward, lower-than-expected growth in Claris' revenues and profitability from significant competition in the regulated markets, a delay in attaining product approvals and a lower-than-anticipated offtake from Claris' business arrangements.
Claris develops, manufactures and markets injectable drugs. During CY09, the company's revenues declined to INR7.4bn (CY08: INR7.5bn), although its EBITDA expanded from INR2.1bn to INR2.3bn. Overall debt levels declined to INR3.1bn from INR3.3bn in CY08, with an improvement in debt/EBITDA to 1.3x from 1.6x.
Applicable Criteria available on Fitch's website at www.fitchratings.com: "Corporate Rating Methodology," dated 24 November 2009.
AprilClaris to go for public offer, raise Rs. 300 Cr
Claris Firms up IPO Plan
MarchRetaining the best
Times Ascent, Delhi, 03 March 2010
With companies not willing to lose good talent, they are now walking the extra mile to retain women at the top. Sheetal Srivastava tells you how...
What is the one common factor that binds Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, Kiran Shaw of Biocon and Chanda Kochhar of ICICI together? The answer: their leadership style. Organisations derive benefits from women because of their precision, dedication, honesty and above all, humane nature. And in doing so, companies are leaving no stone unturned in encouraging and retaining women at top positions.
“Corporates are increasingly experiencing a growing demand for soft skills such as communication ability, worker sensitivity and emotional intelligence. Since these qualities are traditionally associated with women, companies definitely benefit by having women in topmost positions. Also, women in leadership positions are more straightforward and candid,” says Rajkamal Vempati, head - human resources, ICICI Lombard General Insurance.
“Women have inherent multitasking abilities and a higher emotional quotient. Hence, they are treated as assets in the organisation. Their peopleorientation skills make it even more fruitful for an organisation to have sustainable growth,” asserts Shyam Sharma, vice president - HR & corporate communication, Claris.
Companies are now rolling out women-friendly initiatives. With the rise in the need for dual income and growing nuclear families, organisations are gearing up to allow flexibility like taking sabbaticals that will help women in continuing their association with organisations. ICICI Lombard is sensitive towards this problem and thus, has a lot of initiatives for female employees to tackle this. “For example, any female employee planning to adopt a child can claim upto a maximum of 30 days of adoption leave. Also, women are entitled to work parttime or work form home. They can also avail maternity leave and have constant support from the organisation at various life stage events,” adds Vempati.
IBM provides its women employees with the necessary knowledge, resources, tools and opportunities. This enables and empowers them to successfully play active roles in the growth and development of the organisation. It also allows them to effectively and efficiently balance a demanding career with family and personal needs. “While we have a number of programs, policies and initiatives to ensure an inclusive environment in the organisation, our focus to build the women leadership pipeline is what makes these initiatives more unique. With these programs, we aim to grow the pipeline of women leaders who will be responsible for propelling the organisation on the growth path in the long-term. Specific need analysis has been done to identify the needs of women in the various stages of work life (early career, mid-management, senior leadership, etc) and focused initiatives have been planned and executed to meet not just their needs, but also organisational goals,” says Seema Ajwani, chairperson for IBM's India Women Leadership Council (IWLC) and leader - work force relations and diversity for IBM Daksh.
“In addition to our active involvement in Women Conferences in India, we also have an annual Woman Leadership Conference (Winspiration) for selected women leaders which is a widely regarded opportunity to enhance networking and build leadership skills,” adds Ajwani. “Besides the regular programs, special training programs are designed and organised for women in managerial positions to help them build confidence and ‘take the stage’ in the corporate world.
We also conduct a two-day workshop called ‘Women Leadership Development’ targeted to women at top positions. Apart from this, learning from the experience of senior women on ways to face challenges and enable professional growth are some such initiatives,” she further adds. In today’s competitive environment, companies continue to look for ways to improve performance and achieve corporate objectives. They are also increasingly offering women employees the opportunity to work part-time or from home under special circumstances. Other options are telecommuting, which allow staffers to work for one or two days a week from home, a special relaxation room, lactation room and car parking for moms-to-be, are also provided. Whatever the route, the dynamics have changed now and with companies not willing to lose good talent, they are going a long way to hang on to it.