Interview with Nicholas Piramal’s Dr. Swati Piramal

October's edition of Pharmaceutical Manufacturing magazine will feature an interview with Dr. Swati Piramal, who oversees licensing, partnerships, communications and operations for Nicholas Piramal, one of India's top pharma companies.  She is the company's top pharma "domain expert" (husband Ajay focuses on the financial side). Nicholas Piramal recently bought Pfizer's U.K. manufacturing plant in Morpeth, and contract manufacturing will now make up nearly half of its business. It would be impossible not to admire Dr. Piramal for the breadth and range of her work and her interests, and for what she has managed to accomplish in the 18 years that she and her husband have owned the company. She'd established a hospital in the mill area of Parel, where her husband's family textile company was based, three decades ago, and was instrumental in eradicating polio from that part of the city.  The company continues the spirit of that work today, developing new therapies for the Indian and world markets. I hate fawning celebrity profiles a la Robin Leach, but Dr. Piramal is definitely a role model for many of us who struggle to multitask and to balance different interests and facets of our lives. An M.D. with a masters degree in public health, she recently was awarded a knighthood by the French government (click here for a view of her acceptance speech and video clip and note the eclectic range of interests, knowledge of history, and "world view" that so many U.S. executives, unfortunately, lack). She has studied pastry making at the Cordon Bleu, composed a ballet and "sound and light program" and authored new books on subjects ranging from the spiritual ("The Light Has Come to Me" ) to cooking.   She also appears to be a fan of Sufi poetry, and poetry in general.   Dr. Piramal is as as fascinating personality as I've ever seen on the "pharma" stage, and Nicholas Piramal appears to be quite an usual company, in the best sense of that word (its key management principles are derived from the Bhagavad Gita) and it recently won the 2006 International Spirit at Work award. And both the Piramal children appear to be interested in pharma and the "family business."  For an interesting article on the up and coming generation of Indian pharma, read here. Anyone who clings to the outdated "outsourcing" and call center stereotypes of India, or who still thinks that Indian pharma is not becoming "world class" is in for a very rude awakening, indeed. -AMS