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Journey of Nita Borkar, Executive Director; who changed the dynamics of business and made it big in the Pharmaceutical Industry


Change to be the Game Changer…

Journey of Nita Borkar, Executive Director; who changed the dynamics of business and made it big in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Nita Borkar, a woman who always dreamt of becoming a successful entrepreneur within a few days of her joining the pharmaceutical industry as a management trainee in the year 1997 in Nicholas Piramal. She was very passionate about learning different aspects of the pharmaceutical industry with the ability to learn things very quickly. She was excellent in her communication skills that helped her move up in the ladder in the product management team. Nita is a good listener and understands the situation with clarity because of her excellent listening skills. She uses all these skills to support her decision making. This helped Nita in her journey benefiting the organisations with rapid growth, and she is exactly doing the same work at Oaknet Healthcare, a young emerging organisation where she is currently driving a 1000 plus employees as an executive director. Nita took one of the best decisions of her life when she proposed the board of Oaknet Lifesciences the company she started along with her mentor R.S. Raghav in November 2016 along with few other colleagues to go for the acquisition of the Indian business of the African giant Adcock Ingram and the management gave her a go ahead. With her exceptional negotiation skills, she bought the entire domestic market of Adcock to the kitty of Oaknet Lifesciences which was a start-up in Pharma market with a turnover of Rs.5 crores in just one year of its inception from Zero. This was possible with her excellent marketing skills, her vision to scale up the business to the next level with a big turn over to generate big profits. She convinced a leading private equity firm to invest in Oaknet Lifesciences to buy the business of Adcock Ingram which resulted in the formation of Oaknet Healthcare, and her big dream came into realization.

After the successful acquisition of Adcock Ingram, the real challenge emerged in front of her as it was a sinking business. She had to save the earning and lives of 1000 plus employees of Adcock and their families. She becomes emotional when she says “I saved 1000 plus employees and their families but could not save my mother”. But she realised that life and death are beyond the control of human beings and are controlled by God. She is very much inclined toward reading books. She loves to read the Bhagwatgita and implements its learning in the day to day life.

She recollects the famous saying from the Bhagawatgita, “Parivartan Sansar ka Niyam Hai”, that translates to, “Change is the Law of Nature”. “Change is inevitable and better you change to the changed circumstances”. So, she developed a line for herself which is her motto in life,

“Change to be a Game Changer”.

She brought in a lot of change in her professional approach to sharpen her decision-making abilities which have helped her in previous assignments at different levels of management and are currently helping her at Oaknet Healthcare.

Coming back to her childhood she was well groomed by her parents and her mother has always taught her that there is no shortcut to success and only determination and hard work can bring in success in life. Giving an example of her when she was a management trainee in Piramal, her business head gave her the assignment to work on a presentation on Antibiotics. She was not a student of Pharmacy background but despite that she prepared an excellent presentation which the SBU head shared with the entire team so that the others can prepare their presentation in similar lines. This speaks volumes about her marketing skills, the ability to learn new subjects quickly and come out with good innovative ideas to propel the growth of the business. These skills were there with Nita right from the beginning. Nita completed her High School in Mumbai and graduated in Microbiology from Mumbai University. With a zest to pursue a career in marketing, she completed her MBA in Marketing.

Nita is fortunate & had the opportunity to work with bosses who have been demanding and brought out the best in her. In 2000, Nita came across a job notification in Lupin Pharma which was entering the chronic therapy in India. This job seemed like an interesting change to her and took up an opportunity in Lupin. Over the next couple of years, she worked closely with Megha Dhargalkar, a renowned name in the pharma industry, and chalked out the launch plan of Cardio-Diabetic division in India, shaping the company’s future expansion and growth strategies. Nita played a pivotal part in boiling down the molecules, brands and execution strategies. In 2003, Nita went a step ahead and moved to Dabur India as Marketing Manager, APAC. The International market offered a huge scope of growth and learning. Nita strategically launched and positioned Dabur Oncology as No.1 generic company in Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia. Dabur Oncology was positioned as a company that offered cancer therapy at affordable prices and engaged patients for long-term with unique patient welfare programmes. Nita served as a part of the core team that coordinated registrations and key audits for launch in markets such as Turkey and Indonesia. She wanted to learn diversified markets and segments which would help her run an organisation independently in the future. She re-joined Lupin under the mentorship of R.S. Raghav. She took up the role as she was aware that neuropsychiatry is an emerging market in India. Nita had scripted the business plan that delivered and landed Lupin amongst the top 10 CNS companies in India in the first 6 years of launch. Nita had been instrumental in the expansion of the Cardio Diabetic business of Lupin and the business flourished exponentially under her. The toughest decision in her life came when along with Raghav and few other colleagues, she had to start Oaknet Lifesciences. She took the bold decision of quitting a job paying lucrative salary, luxurious well settled life but she made a choice of her own idea and path.

She was crystal clear in her mind that this is the moment and this is going to be a game changer decision in her life. With her dedication, perseverance, determination and hard work she emerged as a successful leader, made Oaknet Healthcare a force to reckon in IPM. She is one of the most successful Indian Entrepreneurs with a big vision and a great heart. She says that the conducive environment created by her parents at her home to support and empower women helped her to chase her dreams and become successful. She admits that the change that has happened in India and still happening in society to provide a conducive environment to empower women in India has really helped her to achieve her dreams. With the changed attitude of the male dominant society and culture, she has reached a height where she not only inspires women but also men in India who want to become like her, following her footsteps.

To perceive more about the company and her professional journey, The CEO Magazine sat with the leading lady and asked a few questions.

Here are edited excerpts.

Hi Nita, thank you so much for your valuable time. To kick things off, throw light on Oaknet Healthcare and its operations.

Oaknet strives towards ushering a new era where best medical treatments will be affordable not just to the classes, but also to the masses.

We understand it well that our nation is dealing with a dire need for high-quality healthcare services, strategies need development at a swift pace for the units produced for raw material that go hand in hand with the government policies keeping the small-scale industries in mind. To gain decent quality of workers with expertise and innovative ideas, the researchers will have to find out of areas that go beyond the barriers of metro cities where in abundance researchers and quality professionals are available. We entered in the market to address this scarcity.

The foundation of Oaknet Healthcare was taken in 2015 by R S Raghav. The vision of Oaknet’s operations is to develop a Sustainable, Scalable, and Specialty focused pharmaceutical company. With the acquisition of Adcock Ingram, Oaknet Healthcare became one of the fastest Indian Company to reach amongst the Top 100 Companies in the IPM. Oaknet has also acquired brands from leading multinational companies like Sandoz and GSK to enrich the product portfolio.

Oaknet with tremendous leadership expertise in the IPM is poised to create history by scaling up revenues to INR 10 billion over the next 5 years through organic and inorganic growth. Oaknet is engaged in specialty therapeutic segments as diverse as Dermatology, Cosmetology, Cardiovascular, Diabetic, Orthopaedics, Gynaecology, etc.

Our team of multi-talented and highly experienced professionals dedicate themselves in enabling India’s medical fraternity to focus on the key products and unique combinations in NCDs, collaborate with credible universities in cardiology & diabetes, and launch unique technology-driven solutions for patient welfare. All these efforts come from the passion to serve humanity, like the Oak tree that shelters everyone, without discrimination.

Where does your interest in entrepreneurship come from – how did you start?

New brands, new markets, new therapy areas, with an ability to take risks and build brands increasing the market share in the IPM has been an interesting journey for me. In 2015, I decided to channelize my work to create and deliver value to establish a new identity in the Indian Pharmaceutical Market and started my entrepreneurial journey. A few key personals joined hands and unfolded our launch, Oaknet Lifesciences.

Give us insights into the major offerings of the company and, how does the company support people with its offerings?

Oaknet Healthcare’s inception took place in 2015 as Oaknet Lifesciences with a goal to scale into the top 50 companies through organic and inorganic growth with 5 years of launch. Oaknet soon collaborated with a leading private equity firm and successfully acquired the Indian footprint of a leading dermatology company, Adcock Ingram and has propelled Oaknet to an impressive 87th position with over 1200 employees spread across the country.

Rechristened the company name to Oaknet Healthcare with four areas of interest in domestic (Dermatology, Cosmecare, Cardio-Diabetic, Women Health, and Pain Management) and International market. In a short span of 25 months, there was a turnaround from a loss-making entity to a profitable business. I had laid down the strategic vision for Oaknet of building a Sustainable, Scalable, and Speciality driven pharmaceutical company and was confident of delivering it with the core values like Performance Orientation, Innovation, Openness, and Committed to Learning and Integrity. Oaknet Healthcare offers a huge basket of products in the field of Dermatology, Diabetology, Cardiology, and Woman Health offering superior care to the patients

What makes your company stand out in the market?

Oaknet Healthcare started in 2015 and within a year of its launch, it had reached the top 100 companies of IPM. Oaknet with the support of a top-notch private equity partner has now acquired many MNC brands strengthening its portfolio year after year.

Today, Oaknet stands strong at the position of offering a portfolio of products covering all the major therapy segments in the IPM.

Who are your clients? How do you keep your clients happy and satisfied?

All the stakeholders involved with Oaknet are our customers starting with the employees, investors, customers in the market and the end consumers of our products. With our state-of-art manufacturing and best practices, we ensure that we deliver value. I look at our business through a customer’s lens and then I come back and talk to my people about what I saw was good, and what was not good. This way I make sure my customers are all content with our offerings.

How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?

I give full credit to my beautiful family members on how I was able to balance work and life. I am married to Prasad, a Banker by profession who has always been supportive and thought that women should have a chance at everything. We have a lovely daughter, Nitika and siblings who have been supportive and have always encouraged me to try new things every day.

Though the statistics of women entrepreneurs in India are rising, yet a woman’s ambitions are often doubted in our society. Is it difficult for women to start a business in India?

Absolutely not, times are changing, as a country; we are progressing and becoming open to seeing women in a leadership position. The environment today has become conducive for women empowerment and women have to come forward to set examples for others. My family environment and society are very much conducive to women empowerment. I also very strongly believe in empowering women and should reach the top position with sheer determination, hard work, & perseverance.

How do women feel in the male-dominated industry? Have you experienced a different attitude because of gender?

The times have changed and things are getting better for women now. As an individual, I have never faced any discrimination or gender bias in my career. I believe that it all depends on the individual’s belief to transcend their own best. Competency and Commitment are the two things that will take us places no matter which gender we are.

What is a day in your life like as an entrepreneur?

The day begins with a lot of thinking and planning to ensure that we create and deliver value to the business and employees. A lot of thought goes into bringing in cost efficiency into the system with resource optimisation. As a businessperson, building a stronger business model with a solid EBITA is very crucial, that is where I invest a lot of my time, and monitoring, mentoring, executing, strategizing, and aligning of the team towards the organisation goal is an ongoing process at any given time of the day

What have you learned about entrepreneurship in your journey?

Entrepreneurship requires a lot of patience to handle failure, meticulous planning to ensure that the business entity does not run into financial crisis. Every step has to be financially safe and executed accordingly. It is also important to build a solid reputation for the organisation that will help us attract talent through growth story and culture

What is your future agenda to keep growing in the market?  

 My agenda for the years to come is very clear. I will strive to bring Oaknet into top 50 companies in the IPM. Top 15 companies in the derma segment, top 30 companies in Gynae market. In terms of brands, we will build at least 10 brands above 10 Cr, 4 brands above 20 Cr and one 50 Cr brand.

As a source of inspiration for many, what would your advice be for female entrepreneurs, who are planning to enter the business world?

If today, I have managed to inspire the women who seek entrepreneurship or already are on the path, it is because of what I have learned from my mother and what I carry with me as my core learning and values. My Mother’s unconditional support and contribution to my successful life have led me in the right direction. Mom always told me, “There is no shortcut to success, only determination and hard work will lead you to success.” She is the guiding force of my life and kept me grounded. The secret to success is not rocket science. It is only hard work and there is no shortcut to success. A person should be a quick learner in today’s environment & competitive world.

She should have passion & a strong desire to do something unique and have a specific goal and channelize all her energy to achieve that goal in life and be successful.

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