Updated on 22 January 2013
He worked at Wockhardt for nearly four years when Indian Immunologicals (IIL) was looking for a deputy managing director (DMD), who knew various aspects of the biotech business. Dr Kumar, while speaking about the reasons behind his selection, says that, "There are very few people who had the experience of working for both animal and human biotech companies, I have a strong microbiology background and have worked in different functions in several companies, I had worked for the best in the business such as Pfizer and I have come back to India and adapted myself according to Indian standards of working. These factors went in my favor." He joined IIL in December 2010.
Talking about his move to IIL, Dr Kumar says that it was really a challenge moving from a private organization to IIL, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board. He made some quick organizational changes to the top tier on joining, streamlined manufacturing, modernized plants, increased capacities and reduced wastage. All the changes that were made by him along with the untiring support and belief of his team yielded rich dividends. This is evident from the fact that within a year of making Rakshaovac-FMD, the vaccine became the largest selling brand in the veterinary market with a turnover of over $18.18 million (Rs100 crores). Dr.Kumar says, "IIL is a company that has a true heart. We strive everyday to make our products affordable by employing the latest in technology".
Dr Kumar, who is a member of the expert committee on vaccines for US pharmacopeia and Indian pharmacopeia, believes that the turning point in his life was when Transgene gave him the opportunity to become the project manager of hepatitis B Vaccine. He believes that had he not been given this opportunity, he would have been stuck in the lab.
The biggest challenge Dr Kumar says was coming back to India after working overseas in top class companies for so long. "There is a huge difference in terms of standards in India as compared to that overseas, and also the work culture is very different. The culture there is very transparent whereas here in India, it is very secretive. People here do not reveal if they have made any mistakes for the fear of being punished whereas there if someone has done something wrong, they will admit it from which others can learn as well," mentions Dr Kumar. He also adds that the western world is "process driven" and in India, its "people driven". In the western world, the means to the end is important whereas here end result seems to be important irrespective of the means taken to achieve it. He, however, quickly reckons that everything that is practiced in the western world cannot be implemented in India.
But life was not all that easy for Dr Kumar in the beginning. Dr Kumar is from a village near Coimbatore and nobody in the family lineage had passed 10th standard. When asked what motivated him to get this far, he says, "I have just been doing the basics right. We are from the village, we are taught certain ethics and values and I have never compromised on that."