TABUK: ON PHARMA’S FRONTLINE
Excerpt from the interview with Ismail Bel-Bachir appearing in Venture Magazine, by Elisa Oddone.
Boasting a steady annual growth of 25 percent for the past four years, Jordanian-founded pharmaceutical company Tabuk has managed to navigate through the changing business environment in the wake of the Arab Spring, expanding throughout the region and recently striking a deal with America’s largest drug-manufacturer.
From his office in Amman, the firm’s CEO Ismail Bel-Bachir told Venture that starting in 2010, the company’s management team has undertaken a “comprehensive” and “aggressive” transformation.
Clarifying and implementing the company’s new strategic direction, and creating more structured management processes has brought Tabuk to a new business level.
“2010 marked a turning point for Tabuk. The company’s portfolio of antibiotics, painkillers, and anti-inflammatory medicine grew its coverage of chronic conditions affecting the cardio-vascular and central nervous system significantly,” Bel-Bachir said.
“Four years ago, Tabuk reached the limit of a small family business driven by extraordinary entrepreneurship. And it never needed to ask itself fundamental strategic questions as it successfully grew into a $100-million-sized firm,” the former McKinsey’s strategist said.
In 2010, Bel-Bachir became the company’s CEO, carrying out those management strategies that enabled the top team to run Tabuk as if it were already a $500 million business. “You have to run a company the way it is supposed to become, not the way it is at present. This would allow you to grow bigger.
Tabuk’s program has been widely successful in terms of putting the firm on the map of the Arab world,” Bel-Bachir said.
Today, the firm is present in over 20 markets and employs about 1,500 people.
Bel-Bachir said his teamwork strategy draws inspiration from successful examples like the World-Cup-winning German national soccer team, where there’s no superstar and the players all work together to reach a common goal. Similarly, he believes that the top team at Tabuk manages business in a more collective way, which is not always the norm in the region. “There is no boss at Tabuk. There is only a management team. We sit and transparently talk to each other,” he explained.
Three new factories are under construction in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan. The firm’s financial perspectives are very promising, with more products and expansion underway. Still, Bel-Bachir looks cautiously at the future of his business in the region as clouds of political instability mount.