Deck change in Cipla for unclear strategy

Rupali Mukherjee | TNN

Mumbai: National Pharmaceutical Principal Cipla faces a high level rotation with its global operations director R Ananthanarayanan being the last to put in their papers. His resignation marks the third exit of senior management within a year, months after the head of global operations. Raju Subramanyam and chief of human resources Prabir Jha , which left the company earlier this year.

This turns the spotlight to the company’s inability of “retaining top-tier talent”, according to various people in the industry and HR, who TOI spoke to. In the past too, Cipla has faced several top-level managerial exits, including two CEOs, two COOs and four CFOs over a span of six years, with the company being increasingly referred to as revolving doors in the industry.

The rotation is not limited to the senior management level, but was also reduced to the middle to upper level, with heads of various human resources functions, and more than a dozen people in human resources resigning. In addition, human resources managers for India and North America are serving their notification periods. The promoters and the old guard are still considered unwilling to let go, according to an industry source.

The sources say that most of the exits have something to do with the inability to give them space and autonomy.

An industry expert, who has followed the company over the years, says the attrition could be due to the uncertainty in top leadership, and unclear strategy. Cipla in earlier days under the strong leadership of promoter and chairman Yusuf Hamied , and MD MD Lulla was an industry pioneer, acquiring large pharmaceutical prices and patents. With the continuous change in leadership after Hamied decided to resign in 2013, and as a consequence, the frequent adjustments in the strategy, the company's perception among its peers and the industry changed.

Confirming the exit of Ananthanarayanan, a Cipla spokesperson said, “Our attrition rate is well within industry standards. Some exits have also been due to retirement. Speculations surrounding the exit of other employees are baseless and devoid of facts. Our rich legacy of care and humanitarian approach to business has made us an employer of choice with a solid workforce of 23,000 employees. However, as with any organization, our people continue to evolve in this dynamic business environment. Some of the exits that are being referred to are mid-management members, who have served for three to five years. Their decision to move on is basis their personal and professional aspirations. ”