Enabling healthy and happy lives for over five decades

Atif Siddiqui, President, CCL Life Sciences
Atif Siddiqui, President, CCL Life Sciences

Khaleej Times recently interviewed Atif Siddiqui, President, CCL Life Sciences. Here are excerpts from the interview

By Tauqeer Muhajir

Published: Tue 23 Mar 2021, 11:24 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 Mar 2021, 1:32 PM

Please tell us about your business background.

I joined CCL in June 2019 as the President of CCL Life Sciences, its international business arm. Prior to that, I have been associated with various MNCs including Abbott, BASF Pharma and ICI across multiple domains of pharmaceutical and consumer healthcare in leadership roles both in emerging and developed markets. 

Please tell us about CCL and your global footprint. I believe you operate in more than 14 countries. Do you plan to expand manufacturing in these countries?

Having been working in the industry for over 20 years now, I must say that CCL is one of the very few companies from Pakistan that have shown tremendous growth in its 50-year history. Being one of the first Pakistani conglomerates to have started transnational operations, CCL Life Sciences, the company I lead, is spread across 21 countries.

CCL has two manufacturing units: one in Pakistan, and the other one in Vietnam. We are planning to have at least one more facility in one of our core markets. For that, we are exploring various options including joint ventures and, possible tech-transfers.

Please expand on your acquisition of Strathealth in the UAE. What is your vision for this market and how will this acquisition work?

We acquired Strathealth in 2020 with an aim to expand our reach in the GCC and beyond. We see Dubai, and UAE at large, as a hub of talent, business development and a centre point that connects the entire world's travel and communication. Plus, Dubai's cordial policies especially the industrial vision of 2030, introduced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, speaks of how this region will be setting the course for the future's development and innovation.

With the acquisition of Strathealth, we are transitioning from export-centricity to direct selling across the GCC region and exploring opportunities for penetrating further into the African region. The vision, to sum it up, is to keep enabling healthy and happy lives and the acquisition supports that.

What CSR initiatives does CCL support?

We take CSR at our core. Our CSR objectives are aligned with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including good health and wellbeing, education, sanitation, and bridging inequality.

Dilawar Hussain Foundation, named after the founder of CCL, supports disease awareness and control, advocating and supporting people who do not have access to healthcare with free-of-cost diagnosis and treatment for diabetes and heart conditions.

We also have an ongoing programme in place known as Partners in Prevention in which all of our teams across the countries of operations are campaigning for the awareness of diabetes and heart diseases. Just recently, CCL collaborated with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health (MOH) donating a month-long treatment of diabetes for thousands of patients in need.

We aim to expand our CSR across the GCC region as well in the near future. 

Do you have any plans to list the company in the capital markets?

Yes, we do. While it is a mid-to-long-term plan, we have already started working on it. We are restructuring the governance model in order to prepare for the listing. With the new acquisition, expanding international operations, and other multiple similar opportunities on the table, we are reorganising the governance structure and in fact, we have taken three independent consultants and reputable advisors on board that develop the structure required for a listed company.

Please tell us about your human capital.

From the beginning of my time as a professional, I have always advocated for one thing and that is working hard enough to create more and more employment.

Human capital is the most valuable asset of any organisation that solves challenges, making a way for the business to sustain itself. While managing several diverse teams at both local and global levels, I have always believed in empowering the people, especially the teams who are looking up to you. My core emphasis has been set on enabling the talent to take risks and question the status quo, inculcating an entrepreneurial culture.

At CCL Life Sciences, we follow a lean structure with diverse cross-functional teams. We have open workspaces with no doors that is something very conducive to making organisations agile. In fact, just recently, we have reached a 50 per cent gender parity at our Vietnamese establishment and over 80 per cent among our teams in the CIS region, across all levels.

As I said, human capital determines the lifespan of an organisation, and if cherished, the organisation is there to stay and excel.

Post-Covid, how do you see this industry evolving?

Covid-19 pushed a paradigm shift in global businesses by posing a multitude of challenges. The pharmaceutical industry was not an exception. In fact, we were challenged to our maximum limits as manufacturing and providing quality healthcare products while keeping our people safe was an uphill task. Speaking of the developing world, that we are part of, the industry has shown remarkable resilience in adapting to the needs of the hour.

The reality of a face-to-face disruption in our day-to-day lives has significantly impacted how pharmaceutical companies launch and sell their products. We have seen a rise in digital interaction with HCPs. Patient-doctor interactions increased manifold in the form of telehealth. We have learnt that the future isn't a physical visit to a doctor's clinic but the future is predominantly virtual whether its medical education, medical appointments, or engagement channels. We must think ahead and beyond.

Any other point you wish to highlight.

The industry is constantly unfolding new sets of opportunities and challenges. With the advancement in technology, rising life expectancy, and increasing awareness among consumers, pharmaceutical companies are no longer confined to developing, adapting and providing prescription drugs. They are exploring new horizons and venturing into the over-the-counter (OTC) segment because consumers are actively taking control of their health maintenance.

We have numerous consumer healthcare products in the GCC, South East Asian, South Asian and CIS countries and they are performing really well. With the goal of meeting the everyday health, nutrition and personal care needs of a billion households, we are building our focus in the consumer health segment by tapping into new markets and sub-therapeutic classes. In fact, just recently, CCL Consumer Healthcare Canada, a company managed by CCL Life Sciences, has launched, Nurtural, a range of tailor-made formulations in the nutraceutical category, which is a high-quality brand offering a variety of products manufactured at US Pharmacopia and EUGMP certified facilities.

Stay safe, eat healthy, and live happy!


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