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Philipe Haydon: A musician CEO struck the right note with Himalaya Drug

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Philipe Haydon is a Chairman and CEO of Bangalore based company Himalaya Drug Company. One would expect him to play golf when he is not making decisions. Haydon plays music instead. He is a vocalist and lead guitarist of four members of blue rock band “Ministry of blues”

Haydon’s journey both corporate (at Himalaya) and musical – started in 1980 in Ahmedabad. Then he played for the band called “Hammersmith”. After moving to Bengaluru in 1993, Haydon continued to straddle the corporate and musical streams. He transformed Hammersmith to ministry of blues a decade ago.

Haydon believes strumming his guitar has taught him principles that he applies to his job. “A guitar has six strings” he feels that music has become him a better communicator and CEO.

“I never wanted to be a pharmaceutical guy,” says Haydon, now the president and CEO of the company for which he quit his band.

In December 1979, Mr. Haydon, who was then a science student at St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad had got a job with Himalaya Drug Company as a medical representative, with the help from his stepfather, who was a senior manager in the company. The company’s then national sales head, who had trained his stepfather, would go on to train Haydon. He took up the job only to earn money and pursue his passion—playing the guitar.

At that time, Himalaya sold around 25 drugs in India; it’s most notable one Liv.52, which was launched in 1955 for treating liver disorders. The company was better known for its drug “Serpina” believed to be the world’s first antihypertensive drug which was launched in 1934, four years after the company was founded by Mohammed Manal, Meraj’s father.

In 2007, Haydon became the CEO of pharmaceuticals which is the Himalaya Company’s largest business division. His passion, belief and contribution to Himalaya cannot be measured, and is highly infectious.

He took over as the CEO of Himalaya drug company in 2012 and also played a key role in transforming Himalaya Drug Company from a herbal drug maker to an overarching wellness company that now boasts of more than 300 products across categories such as toothpastes, body lotions, face washes, shampoos, soaps, lip balms, pain-relief balms, nutrition products as well as Ayurveda drugs for humans and animals.

In 2004, Himalaya Drug Company had total turnover of around Rs 200 crore, with 97 percent of revenue coming from Ayurveda medicines. According 2015-16 stats, it had revenues of about Rs 1,800 crore with only 34 percent of it coming from the pharmaceutical business.

“Himalaya Drug Company has become an iconic wellness company,” says Vishal Bali, chairman, Medwell Ventures, a health care services provider.

 “From branded Ayurveda therapeutics, the company has made a very impressive transition to broad-base itself into India’s first multinational wellness company.” According Indian pharmaceutical market data, “Himalaya’s pharmaceutical business ranks at No 30 in a list of the top 150 pharma companies in India. It has 169 exclusive Himalaya stores, which have grown by 20 percent in five years.

For the musician to corporate suite executive, taking Himalaya Drug Company to the next level is an “obsession” now.  At the end on a more philosophical note he says, “Music has taught me to be more empathetic and has given me the patience to manage different temperaments.”

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