Ashish Pal Part 1 - Managing Director -MSD Singapore & Malaysia
Many aspire to reach the upper echelon of the healthcare industry, but few are able to successfully navigate the corporate ladder. As Asia becomes the world epicenter of the healthcare industry, C-Suite Partners sits down with international healthcare executives asking the tough questions and unpacking the personalities of the top industry leaders.
Welcome to the boardroom.
Michael Murray 0:51
Ashish, thank you very much for being a part of “In The Boardroom”.
Ashish Pal 0:54
Thank you, Michael for the invitation.
Michael Murray 0:56
Very interested to understand your career today. Can you take me past maybe 1520 years of your career up until now?
Ashish Pal 1:03
Sure. So I think I’ve been privileged to have had the opportunity of really working across multiple continents, I started my career in India spent close to 10 plus years in the US working the US market, also took on leadership roles, global leadership roles based out of the US. And then after spending all that time in the US market, I really wanted to completely step out of my comfort zone. So made a conscious choice and expressed a conscious desire to move to the emerging markets and so spend some time physically in India for a couple of years, then in Jakarta, Indonesia, and now in Singapore.
Michael Murray 1:44
So talk me through your first executive role. What was it?
Ashish Pal 1:48
So my first general management role was when I was responsible for starting up and operationalizing, a pan emerging markets joint venture between a leading us global multinational company, and a leading Indian generics company that now is the fifth largest generic company in the world, the position was to relocate to India, because the partner was India based. But the joint venture was a pan emerging markets joint venture. And so it was not just bringing together two different companies. But it was bringing together two very different cultures, two very different operating styles. And I built a leadership team based out of Mumbai, India, but I also had teams working with me around the world and what was fascinating was that we actually got this joint venture operationalised, from basically the very initiation.
Michael Murray 2:46
Was there, you know, any other moments that you were very, very proud of, in your first role as a managing director?
Ashish Pal 2:55
When I think about my first role as a managing director, I think we cannot undermine enough, the needs to recognise the diversity of cultures. And the reality is, Michael, a lot of my formative years were in the United States, which has got a very different work culture, in many ways, from what you see, in many parts of Asia, what I’m exceptionally proud of was actually taking an organisation and transforming it to become one of the fastest-growing organisations in the industry in a very relatively short period of time. But before getting there, I had to make along with some very strong business partners, some very tough decisions on people and made some significant changes on the leadership team. And beyond the leadership team. At the end of the day, it’s all about making sure we have the right people in the right roles. So I think we went through that process of really making the right choices on talent. And when we made the right choices on talent, and we enabled that talent, to really unleash what they were capable of great things started happening. And so we took an organisation that had tremendous potential, and really unleash that potential by really making the right choices on people making the right choices on structure, while ensuring that we continue to have the consistent choices and governance and accountability.
Michael Murray 4:29
And your career is obviously spent 10, 20 years of being an executive, talk me through the worst hiring decision you’ve ever made.
Ashish Pal 4:39
So I’ll talk to talk you through a very challenging hiring decision I made early on when I was in a global brand leadership role. And I made a choice to bring in someone into a marketing position. The person I brought in had no marketing experience. was a sales leader. Okay. However, the part that I probably at that point in time didn’t quite recognize was that there is there is mindset. There are skill sets. And then there’s capabilities. The part that I probably didn’t catch early in that hiring process was the mindset. Okay. And what I mean by that is marketer or being a marketer, because that’s how I grew up in my career requires the ability to think strategically. The individual I brought in nor I moved over from sales to marketing, just struggled, being a marketer fundamentally struggled, thinking strategically. He couldn’t pull himself out, you know, of being a tactician. Understood, right. And I think I tried very hard to coach this person. And to really look to see what we could do to look at if cultivating a different mindset. But at one point in time, I think it became very evident to the person concerned and myself that it was not the right fit. And so we made a very conscious choice to move the person back into a sales role because it was not a performance or a commitment issue. On the start, it was a fit issue and I think we recognise that relatively early in our journey, and we made the right choices and moved on.
Michael Murray 6:42
Do you remember a piece of feedback that was very hard to take on early in your career?
Ashish Pal 6:47
Yes, I do.
Unknown Speaker 6:48
Ashish Pal 6:49
And it was tough feedback to get, I will say, but I think as I internalized it, I realized and I recognize the feedback.