Name – Dr. Sunil Gupta

Profession – Pharmaceutical Scientist at Zim Laboratories

Age – 47

Gender – Male

City – Nagpur

Industry – Pharmaceuticals

Insights

  1. The pharmaceutical spectrum of knowledge rages from chemical engineering to micro-biology so you have to be adept at both.
  2. Patience, vigilance, following protocols, observation and listening skills are of the utmost importance as there’s no room for mistakes in production and manufacturing of medicine and drugs.
  3. Given the sensitive nature of the job individuals should have an uncompromising attitude with regards to ethics and quality standards.
  4. Jobs pertaining to marketing and sales are quite competitive whereas plant and research related jobs are more coordination oriented.
  5. There is scope for financial growth in the pharmaceutical industry but it’s a slow process since your salary is commensurate with your level of responsibility, which in turn depends upon your level of work experience and academic degree

Where have you been born and raised?

I was born in Ambala and owing to the fact that my father was a defense personnel we had very a peripatetic life, so I’ve lived in a quiet a few places like Agra, Calcutta, Srinagar, Delhi and Gujarat.

What is your family background?

My father worked for the Indian Air Force which means our family moved quite frequently, my mother is a housewife and I have one younger brother who works as an automation engineer.

Who all had the most influence on you and how?

I came to do what I do owing to circumstance, after I graduated from high school I tried out for both Medical and Engineering which was the norm in our times but failed to succeed in either, the next nearest avenue happened to be Pharmaceuticals and as luck would have it I was quite good at it.

Please give us a summary of your career, chronologically, including organisation names and your role/designation.

I started my career after completing my M. Pharma at Core Parenterals Ltd, Gujarat in 1995 as a Formulation and Development associate where I worked for a year. After that I moved to Patiala where I was offered a lectureship position in Punjab University, I worked there for almost 8 years and during this tenure I was able to finish my PhD program; following which I did my post-doctoral program in Lisbon, Portugal. After returning to India I joined GlaxoSmithKline in Gurgaon, 2007 and in 2014 I moved to Nagpur to join Zim Laboratories where I work as R&D Manager.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of Pharmaceutical Profession?

I graduated from College of Pharmacy in Delhi, then there are others like Hamdard College of Pharmacy, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences, JSS College of Pharmacy etc. Broadly speaking government institutes are better than private ones in this field since their teaching is more rigorous although there a few good private institutes as well for those who can afford it.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of Pharmaceutical profession?

The cost will differ based on whether you attend a government or a private institute and what level of degree you are pursuing, for example my 4-year undergrad program from a government institute cost me about Rs. 10,000 whereas my 18 months master’s program which I did from a well-recognized private institute cost me about Rs 15,000.

What are the typical entry level jobs in Pharmaceutical profession?

When people complete their undergrad they tend to go for either sales as medical representatives or manufacturing as production chemists working in a plant. Those who complete their masters, have a wider variety of specializations to choose from like quality assurance, pharmaceutical technology or medicinal chemistry, pharmacology etc.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

Your take home salary when starting out depends on your level of academic qualification, it ranges from anywhere between 15,000 -25,000. With a decade’s worth of experience under your belt you can rise to the level of a team leader, so you earn close to 80,000.

Describe your work? What do you typically do on a normal workday as a Pharmaceutical Scientist?

At my level the most important thing is to ensure communication and coordination among the team leaders, I’m also in charge of project management which involves selection of project, checking for intellectual properties, design the formulation strategy, procure the raw materials, check the analytical feasibility, the actual development process, clinical studies, manufacturing.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider career/job in Pharmaceutical Profession?

As pharmaceutical scientists we don’t diagnose the diseases, but we do provide the medicine that allows people to get better which is the ultimate goal of healthcare services so our role in society cannot be understated however in this profession there is a trade-off involved between moral and financial satisfaction.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

For people considering field jobs like sales and marketing, travelling and waiting for appointments with doctors to promote their product can be exhausting.

For people considering plant job like production chemist one must be a keen observer as a trainee because one is in direct contact with the chemicals. Also, mistakes are not tolerated because in terms of quality we only have one- the very best. Working in a pharmaceutical company means you directly deal with people’s well-being so there is no room for error.

I have 6 days per week working and spend on an average 9 hours in office.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding premium in your job profile?

Medicinal chemistry and knowledge of intellectual property are two skills that are in high demand. Pellets manufacturing technology is something which is crucial to the production process.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

The people who have an inclination for both engineering and medicine will find pharmaceutical industry quite interesting. However, someone who is extremely wealth-oriented would not be satisfied with this job but one who has patience, passion for the sciences and the ability to stick to instructions will thrive.

Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned? Would you pursue another profession or a passion perhaps?

I’m very content with my job as pharmaceutics is an interdisciplinary field that requires an in-depth knowledge of both engineering and micro-biology and I really appreciate the complexity and challenges it presents.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

It has been the trend that males prefer manufacturing while females prefer quality control. However, both males and females opt for marketing and sales, so it is vital that you know the challenges associated with each type of specialization before you choose yours. Apart from that “Be eager to learn, be patient and follow the instructions because being in a chemical plant means even a small oversight can lead to an unmitigated disaster”.

Liked this Interview? You might want to check out our Interaction with Vishal Kumar Pandey, Pharmacist