In our new series Leadership From Failure, this week we highlight what entrepreneurs and leaders have learned from their mistakes and how they have used failure as a stepping stone to become leaders and role models. Today, we hear from Namita Thapar, Executive Director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals, and CEO, Incredible Ventures, Master franchisee of YEA.
Namita Thapar is an entrepreneur on a mission. She travels extensively, investing her time and energy into her job in the pharmaceuticals sector while also mentoring young adults on their road to entrepreneurship.
The 41-year-old is the Executive Director of Emcure Pharmaceuticals and the CEO, Incredible Ventures, Master franchisee of YEA! India.
Headquartered in Pune, Emcure is a pharmaceutical company, which makes tablets, capsules, and injectables.
Through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA), Namita provides children the opportunity to go beyond the classroom and explore their entrepreneurial side. YEA is a franchise of YEA America, which transforms students between the ages of 11 and 18 into real, confident entrepreneurs.
Failure equals learning opportunities
With 17 years of work experience, Namita initially worked with Guidant Corporation in the US in various finance and marketing roles, and for 12 years with Emcure, where as the CFO, she drives the finance department and has more recently also taken charge of India operations.
Talking about failure, Namita says, “I have encountered several failures in the past, which have provided important learning opportunities and have made me emerge stronger from the experience.”
“Emcure has made a string of global acquisitions over the past seven years. In all cases, we were essentially buying a small operation with some key personnel who had the requisite local market knowledge. Accordingly, post-acquisition, we wanted to give the new team a lot of autonomy and let them essentially function on an as-is basis. However, in one of our key subsidiaries, we had a bad experience - the senior team members were hiding information from us. My failure was that I did not work to put the IT systems in place to better integrate the subsidiary so as to have transparent access to all key information. We did not have a trusted finance professional from my team stationed there post-acquisition to ensure adequate controls,” Namita reveals.
Having learnt the hard way, Namrata has ensured all geographies and M&A have finance and IT integration from Day 1, and this is something she plans to continue to do in the future too. To this end, she has also built a strong finance and global compliance team, which she says will “continue to send people to work directly in those geographies to maintain proper checks and balances”.
Namita does not hesitate to reveal more episodes of failure. In another instance, she reveals she failed (repeatedly) in her attempt to take charge of domestic marketing operations, given her prior marketing background at Guidant. However, she did not give up until she fixed the problem and found a solution.
“Though my previous organisation in the US was willing to let a CA/MBA in finance transition successfully to a marketing role in terms of job responsibility, it was a much tougher task at Emcure. Typical biases and resistance from old-timers were getting in the way. Eventually, by consistently highlighting gaps that could be corrected with the right analytics and digitisation in place, I was able to win their confidence. I was then handed charge of the India business with over 6,000 medical representatives and two lakh doctors spanning 15 therapeutic areas. This experience definitely taught me the power of persuasion and persistence,” Namita says.
Emotions are a part of the learning
Does failure affect one emotionally? Namita believes it’s all right to give in to emotions.
She says, “I am human and do get emotional after a failure. You go through the usual denial, regret, self-pity, but I am lucky that I am inherently a very positive person and always manage to pick myself up.”
Her positive attitude is what keeps her going. “With the right amount of self-talk and support from my family and colleagues, I do manage to get back on track quickly,” she adds.
Tell us how you bounce back when you encounter failure or challenges? What works for you?