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Hot jobs for graduates in pharma industry
Richa Pant
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April 03, 2007

How can your land the right job in a hot job market?

First of all do you know the kind of job you want? Are you aware of all the different kinds of jobs out there?

It is no longer that tricky to locate a paying and interesting job after graduation. New career fields have opened up in almost every industry.

In an ongoing series, we take a look at the brand new jobs available in the pharma industry across the board for fresh graduates.

Part I: Jobs: 'It's boom time for graduates'
Part II: Graduates, spruce up your skills
Part III: Hot jobs in retail for fresh graduates
Part IV: ITES/BPO sectors need fresh graduates
Part V: Opportunities for graduates in insurance sector
Part VI: Opportunities for graduates in the ad industry

Globalisation and the information superhighway have resulted in countries coming closer. From a business perspective, the world is now one big marketplace. The situation could not be more appropriate for the Indian pharmaceutical industry, one of the major economic sectors in India.

Cut-throat competition, new product launches, brand extensions, clinical trials, expansion of ethical drugs ranges and over-the-counter products, a growing marketplace with reduced brand loyalty, stringent regulatory issues and price control, and rapid changes in technology are just a few of the challenges that offer opportunities within the pharmaceutical industry.

As a result, "there is a huge requirement for professionally qualified, competent and efficient manpower and entrepreneurial talent," says Manish Arora, 28, an independent recruitment consultant based in Pune.

A big slice of the employment pie is for graduates, who can be easily absorbed at the entry-level.

Leading players

Pharmaceutical companies broadly fall into three categories -- the MNCs and top Indian players, middle-rung companies with an annual turnover of Rs 40-Rs 50 crore, and local companies with no national network.

Some of the major names include Ranbaxy, Sun Pharma and Dr Reddy's, Cipla, Wockhardt Limited, Nicholas Piramal, Aventis, Glaxo Smithkline, Novartis, Dr Morepen and Pfizer. Most of these companies provide numerous opportunities for graduates.

Job prospects

This sector is on the fast track for growth, both in terms of volume and sophistication. Job prospects are aplenty here. One can go into marketing and consulting services, sales promotion, retail / wholesale distribution, product management, marketing management information, data management, public relations, etc. Marketing management opportunities include brand management, product management, marketing, market research and business development.

One can also become involved with online search services, books, e-journals, literature for promotion to doctors and laboratories, documentation of records, etc. Other opportunities include marketing of medical devices and equipments, Ayurvedic formulations, homeopathic formulations, nutritional supplements, veterinary formulations, etc. Self-employment opportunities exist in terms of starting one's own marketing and distributorship outfits.


"Most medicine sales are done on doctors' prescriptions, which is why pharmaceutical companies try to tempt doctors into prescribing their drugs," says Akhilesh Mathur, 24, a medical representative (MR) with a leading pharmaceutical company.

According to a survey, pharmaceutical companies spend about 35 per cent of their funds on the brand promotion and sales promotion of their products. Selling is normally done at two levels: by the Marketing Team and the Product Management Team. The basic difference between the two is that the MT works directly for the sales promotion of various company products. Team members personally meet doctors and chemists in their area. The entry-level post in a marketing team is that of a medical representative.

The PMT, on the other hand, works indirectly for promotions. It focuses on brand promotion of the products, using various modes of publicity like advertising, holding workshops and seminars for doctors and chemists, etc. The entry-level post here is that of product executive.

Job profile

"The sales and marketing functions offer the biggest opportunities for those of the general stream. Medical representatives are the most common job opening for graduates," says Manish. They inform and educate medical practitioners of the potential uses of drugs / products and their administration, along with side effects or precautions for use. The job entails regular visits to medical practitioners, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and health centres, and involves a lot of touring.

"The MR generally knows every doctor and chemist in his area. He is the backbone of any pharmaceutical company. His role is to convince doctors to prescribe his company's products. For this, he also offers gifts and incentives, literature and free product samples to doctors," says Akhilesh.

MRs also meet chemists in their area from time to time, to check and promote sales. "Normally, a Bachelor of Science degree is a must to become a MR. However, big pharmaceutical companies hire people from the arts stream too. As it is primarily a field job, it is preferred more by males than females. Males comprise 80 per cent of professionals working with pharmaceutical companies. However, in recent years, there has been a greater influx of girls," according to Manish.

As the job profile involves convincing doctors, an MR needs to have excellent communication skills and a pleasing personality. A good understanding of the product is also essential. With respect to product executives, their basic job is to promote the brands and image of the company. They also create a lobby of prominent doctors in favour of their company. Normally, they work at the headquarters of the company or in its metropolitan branches.

Payment structure

"In a good pharmaceutical company, an MR gets anything from Rs 8,000 to Rs 15,000 at the entry level. Apart from this, he gets a bonus, provident fund, gratuity, insurance cover, leave travel allowance, medical allowance and other benefits," says Akhilesh.

If a BSc graduate goes on to do an MBA, or if he has a B.Pharm with an MBA, it is the most sought-after qualification to get a job in top-notch pharmaceutical companies; for these candidates, a start of Rs 15,000 plus monthly is common. Most companies offer a package deal for medical representatives. Middle-rung companies are offering a basic of around Rs 8,000 under a system of commission, in which the MR can earn additional incentives in lieu of sales targets achieved, says Manish.

On the basis of performance, an MR can rise to higher positions like Area Manager, Regional Manager, Zonal Manager, Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, GM, Vice-President, President and CEO of the company.

As for candidates interested in Product Management Teams, the entry-level post of product executive offers between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000. On the basis of performance, a PE can rise to senior posts like Product Manager, Group Product Manager and Brand Manager of the company.

Training institutes

There is great demand for professionals for various pharmaceutical companies in India. A few training institutes that can help include:

Companies that hire

Part I: Jobs: 'It's boom time for graduates'
Part II: Graduates, spruce up your skills
Part III: Hot jobs in retail for fresh graduates
Part IV: ITES/BPO sectors need fresh graduates
Part V: Opportunities for graduates in insurance sector
Part VI: Opportunities for graduates in the ad industry

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