Head-HR, Novartis India
GOAL IN LIFE: Lead a meaningful life with a purpose of positively impacting organisations that she works for and people that she interacts with.
BEST LEADERSHIP LESSON: Connecting to people's minds can have an impact
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has the lowest attrition rate among multinational drug companies in India, despite its problems over patent protection of its anti-cancer drug Glivec and a proposed reorganisation of some businesses as part of a global plan. Much of the credit for this should go to Meenakshi Priyam, Human Resources Head of Novartis India, for her untiring effort to keep employee morale high. She has also worked hard at infusing talent into the company and building capabilities. "My biggest challenge is continuing the accelerated growth agenda of the company with key focus on the patients we serve," she says.
A trained classical singer who also loves reading, movies and travel, Priyam got her MBA from XLRI, Jamshedpur, specialising in human resources, after graduating in chemistry from a Patna college. After a short stint in the banking sector - with Axis Bank and YES Bank - she worked with global healthcare major Johnson & Johnson from July 2006 to September 2013 before moving to Novartis. She thanks her family for their role in her success. "When my daughter was just one year old, I was offered the position of Asia Pacific Regional Head, HR at J&J, which involved travelling two weeks in a month to 14 different countries," she says. "I was not sure whether to accept, but my husband and in-laws encouraged me to and supported me during that period."
Priyam says her "love for challenges, a childlike enthusiasm towards learning and a purpose of making a difference" drives her. Her colleagues vouch for her, too. "Priyam has this ability to deal with people issues holistically and find solutions that are practical and in the best interest of all stakeholders," says Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Novartis India.