How to Become a Strategic Thinking Pharma First-line Manager

How to Become a Strategic Thinking Pharma First-line Manager

The other day a student of mine from a transnational pharma company, Rafik Haji, a budding District Manager in V & V Pharmaceuticals asked me, “Vivek Sir, in our workshop the other day you touched upon the topic of strategic thinking. You mentioned so lucidly that strategic thinking is as important for first-line managers as for top-level corporate managers. I never knew this.”

“Rafik,” I smiled, “do you recall what exactly strategic thinking is?”

“Of course, Vivek Sir! You made it so simple. Strategic thinking is a realistic, no-nonsense type of critical thinking. Strategic thinking requires me to consider the past, the present, and the future of my District. Thinking strategically requires research, analysis, and importantly forethought to create a plan for how I will proceed in the future for the building my brands in my District; and for the betterment of my organization.” 

“Yes, Rafik. In amazingly simple words, strategic thinking is your ability to plan. And strategic thinking is also big thinking. And do you recall what should a District Manager do to think strategically?”

“Yes, of course! Here I am listing them down!”

  1. He should develop a child-like curiosity. This is because curiosity drives you into an unknown realm, which is where you make discoveries uncover opportunities, and experience growth. Curiosity is thus linked very closely with success. Asking the right question is as important as finding the right solution.
  1. A District Manager should think like the greatest chess master, India has produced, Vishwanath Anand. Vishwanath Anand thinks twenty moves ahead. A District Manager should have the ability to think ahead and anticipate potential problems. And he should have a backup plan ready to navigate when things do not go as planned.
  1. A strategic thinking District Manager should have analytical skills. Ask these questions: “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.” These six questions will open our minds, will help us connect dots, and give us a clue to resolving issues and problems which are critical for District Managers.
  1. A District Manager should be an active listener. Strategic thinking starts with how well you listen. Learning how to listen to your down-line, peers, superiors, retail pharmacies and doctors will help you gather insights that will guide you in taking vital strategic steps.
  2. And of course, thinking big is so important. Think beyond targets. While targets may be important milestones, more critical is the quest for the leadership position of V & V brands. Because brand leadership is what will lead you to corporate leadership.

“Wow Rafik, you have put these five points so beautifully. Strategic District Managers focus on developing medical representatives – because the success of medical representatives, the foot soldiers, leads to the ultimate success of your organization. Good strategic thinking uncovers potential opportunities for creating value and challenging conventional thinking. A strategic thinker is always searching for the unusual – something that is different – and can set assumptions aside. The greatest benefit of critical thinking for a District Manager is that it helps him to make more informed decisions in his everyday life. Thank you for broaching this topic!”

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