Interview – Imran Panawala

Imran Panawala, endearingly known as IP has been a part of PharmEvo throughout its transformational journey. His remarkable span of 22 years in challenging roles with our various group companies makes him a thorough Exceptional Evodian. An incredible accounting genius and a man of numbers, he has been at the helm of restructuring and realigning different units like Finance, Supply chain, and Regulatory Affairs.

How would you describe your overall PharmEvo journey so far?

I joined PharmEvo in 2001 as an accounts officer. My background is in accounts and finance. Before joining PharmEvo, I was associated with the world-top tier and well-renowned construction company J&P (Overseas) Limited, in the accounts department. And before that, I was associated with an Audit firm. So, before joining PharmEvo, I had experience in audit, taxation, accounts, and finance. I was among the colleagues who joined PharmEvo in its initial phases. I oversaw construction projects of PharmEvo Factory from a financial perspective, besides handling my routine job as an accounts officer. I worked here for 2 years, until 2003.

In 2003, I passed my professional accountancy exam and become an Associate member of the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan. And in the same year, I was given an opportunity to serve Shield Corporation Limited, as an Assistant Finance Manager. From 2003 until 2006, I worked for Shield Corporation in got promoted to Finance Manager. And then in 2006, I was asked to come back to PharmEvo Finance to head the department, where along with my colleagues, I was able to restructure the Finance Department. At that time, we established several divisions, we worked very long hours, and it was a memorable time.

In 2011, I was promoted as Executive Director and transferred to Premier Distributor to lead it. I was looking after the entire distributor function. I worked there for around 2 years. I made some operational changes. Here, we focused on the introduction of IT in the distribution operations, we realigned processes and eliminated unnecessary functions and redundancies.

In Premier Group, you guys made some major changes, so did you join PharmEvo again?

The operational understanding that I gained is from the distribution side. In 2013, I decided to switch roles as I wanted to pursue further challenging role. As a result, management delegated me the role of Head of Supply Chain at PharmEvo. Because it was a new function, and as I like to take on challenges, I accepted that job role, and since then till 2017, I headed the Supply Chain Department alone. In 2017, there were some challenges in the regulatory department, so that function was too assigned to me, since then I am heading regulatory functions as well with the team over there. With the assistance of teams, we restructured the Supply Chain and Regulatory Departments.

I have two conclusions: first, you are a veteran of Premier Group and PharmEvo, and second, you are a guy of numbers.

Yes you are correct, my thinking process is driven by numbers.

How have you evolved personally in your journey with the group?

Previously, I was more interested in the results. However, now I’ve realized that the people are the most important factor. Hence, now I give more consideration to the people around me.

What essentially drives you at work? What is your driving force, and what motivates you?

I believe in the Japanese mantra for that: “If somebody has done it, you can do it, and if nobody has done it, you must do it.” I think challenges drive me.

We give you the title of "Exceptional Evodian," so what are the exceptional traits that make you an exceptional Evodian?

I think quick decision-making and team work are the two main qualities about me that make me exceptional.

In your opinion, what are the traits that every Evodian must possess?

PharmEvo has a very strong value system represented as ITREE, in my opinion, all the Evodians should follow that value system.

In this long journey, how did you maintain a work-life balance?

I used to struggle with balancing things. However, now I prioritize them, the important things come first and try to avoid unimportant things, and I think that I’ve improved a lot at it.

What challenges do you experience, and do you think the on-the-job challenges change over time?

I think challenges are there to provide an opportunity to grow and become stronger. One should remain calm and determined in challenging situation and continue with the efforts to come out of the situation instead of losing hope.

As of 2023, the divisions you are looking at currently at PharmEvo Plant, what are the biggest challenges and what are their strengths?

Presently, the country is going through the worst ever economic challenge, which is directly impacting the supply chain—getting the material to run the organization and make the product available. The greatest strength we have is our “people” to respond to this challenging situation.

Name two leaders you take inspiration from.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and second Caliph Hazrat Umar (Radiallahoanha) These are the two inspirational leaders for me.

Who is your mentor at PharmEvo or Premier group?

I consider Ebrahim Qasim Sahib a great human and among one of the finest corporate leader as in interaction with him I learnt something new.

As a professional, what has been your happiest or proudest moment at PharmEvo?

There have been many moments during my professional career that gave me sense of accomplishment. One of such events was the project of implementation of SAP, which we completed before target date.

Further, recently we completed the validation of that software on our own, for which many other companies have paid millions of rupees. Thanks to the team that worked with me on these project.

What skill would you like to improve?

There are a lot of areas for improvement. One thing I would say is that I need to improve my relationship management skills.

In your opinion, which workplace behavior is a major no-no?

Fairness and Candor are the two important factors that should be practised in the workplace.

Who is your favorite colleague at work?

I have spent more than 22 years at PharmEvo and this group. There are many good co-workers here; it is difficult to name one person. I have a very cordial relationship with Haroon Qasim, Jamshed Ahmed, Nadeem Rehmat, Nabeel Yousuf and all other colleagues.

What has been your most daring moment in the 22 years since you began?

Here at PharmEvo, there is more empowerment. PharmEvo gave me the confidence to take on new responsibilities and helped me grow as a professional.