As a child, somewhere between eavesdropping on work updates over dinner and belting out tunes at office Diwali parties, Vinita Gupta developed an unshakeable, visceral connection to her family business. “It was hard to differentiate family life from the business of Lupin,” admits Gupta of the transnational pharma company she steers. The path-breaking drug-maker was founded by her late father, Dr Desh Bandhu Gupta. The Rajasthan-born chemistry professor launched Lupin in 1968 with the goal of making quality medicines for life-threatening diseases (such as tuberculosis) in India and always harboured international ambitions. But it was under his daughter’s command (she earned her MBA from the Kellogg School of Management), that they set up shop in the United States about 15 years ago. Today, the younger Gupta, who resides in Maryland with her husband and teenage son, runs the fourth largest generics player in America. Over email, Gupta talks about the entrepreneurial edicts she inherited from her visionary father.
Tell us about the most rewarding aspects of building on your father’s legacy as CEO of Lupin.
My father (Desh Bandhu Gupta, founder and chairman, Lupin) passed away in 2017. He left us with a legacy to constantly challenge ourselves and push ourselves further to improve access to affordable healthcare and life-changing medicines. He ingrained a culture of entrepreneurial spirit and resilience in our company. In 2003, when I established Lupin’s business in the US, I wore multiple hats: sales, marketing, etc, as I needed to grow our business. It was truly an entrepreneurial endeavour and I take great pride in taking our family business and expanding it globally into one of the most impactful contributors to the US healthcare market.
In 2003, you introduced Lupin’s American division. What was this watershed moment like?
It was a pivotal few years. We introduced the American division and my son, Krish, was born in March. I was committed to be there for him in those critical first months. I also had commitments I made to our business, including internalising our sales force when our brand business first turned a profit—which happened that spring. I was back in the office within a few weeks, and by May we hosted a meeting in Baltimore to welcome the sales force into the company. That year, we hired critical leaders that enabled me to ensure I was efficient with my time, so I could focus on the important things at work and home.
You’ve spoken candidly about women leaving the workforce at the junior level. What sort of cultural infrastructure needs to be in place to prevent this?
Women make up around 14 per cent of the 2.8 lakh scientists, engineers and technologists employed in research and development institutions in India. The global average is around 28.4 per cent. Even though women enrol for degrees in science, the conversion to successful careers is low due to societal pressures to be married or start a family. Science in our society is still seen as a male profession. There is a need to effectively create policies to promote women in STEM.
Have you ever had to tussle between professional and personal priorities?
In my conversations with other women leaders, the one common theme I find is that your achievements are driven by your own hunger to succeed. The key is to find the right balance between your professional and personal goals, and communicate to the people who are integral in making that happen—be it mentors, family, friends or colleagues.
How has Lupin worked towards gender inclusivity?
We have multiple female board members, and women leaders throughout our executive team. It’s a diverse workforce with no limitations placed on the opportunity for upward mobility, which is why we don’t have a need for specific female-focused initiatives today.
Read more in Vogue India’s November 2018 issue that hit stands on November 5, 2018
Photographed by: Bikramjit Bose. Styled by: Anaita Shroff Adajania
On Kareena: Bikini top, Melissa Odabash
Hair: Ajay Kaloya (Ranbir); Priyanka Borkar (Alia); Yianni Tsapatori/ Faze Management (Kareena). Makeup: Mickey Contractor (Kareena); Hemant Naik (Ranbir); Puneet B Saini (Alia). Production: Imran Khatri Productions; Divya Jagwani. Photographer’s assistants: Vikas Gotra (Ranbir). Assistant stylists: Priyanka Kapadia; Fabio Immediato; Aradhana Baruah. Editorial assistant: Janine Dubash
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