NextGen Rising: Nandini Piramal Made Six Acquisitions in Two Years

Nandini Piramal

The next generation of the Piramal family is determined to take the Piramal Group’s businesses to even greater heights. Nandini Piramal, daughter of Piramal Enterprises’ Ajay Piramal, has been in the news because of Piramal’s recent $175 million acquisition of five injectable anaesthesia brands from Jansenn Pharmaceutical. Nandini is an Executive Director in the company, and also leads its Over-The-Counter (OTC) arm. She also heads the Human Resources function for the Group.

Piramal’s OTC business has grown substantially under her leadership. It became India’s 7th largest player in 2012, from number 40 in 2008. In the past two years, the healthcare division of the company has made six acquisitions–using Rs 1,800 crore –three of which were for the OTC business. “We aim to be a top 3 player in the OTC (over-the-counter) market by 2020. Acquisition is one of the important routes to help us achieve our goal,” Nandini said in an interview with Mint.

The young scion has been educated at some of the best institutions in the world: She graduated from Oxford University, and went on to complete her MBA from Stanford University.

The World Economic Forum recognized her as a ‘Young Global Leader’ in 2014.

Before she joined the family business, she worked as an analyst at McKinsey for a few years. She also worked at the company’s Newcastle office in the UK for three years. HDFC’s Deepak Parekh, and Professor Bharat Anand of HBS have mentored Nandini and her brother.

Nandini is confident that she can catapult the OTC business into the top three in the segment. In an interview with Forbes, she said, “The strategy is simple: To identify niche sectors where there is a “disruption of routine” and customers are willing to pay a premium for their life to get back to normal. People are beginning to worry about their health before they go to the doctor.”

The company already has brands such as the I-pill, Lacto Calamine and Caladryl. Its revenue grew 14 per cent to Rs 357 crore in 2015 and to Rs 393 crore in Financial year 2016. The company started the OTC business in 2007.

“We are ready for acquisitions — big and small,” she said. “The OTC market is fragmented. There are big brands in a few categories but we believe there is a lot of room to play,” she told Business Standard. According to India Brand Equity Foundation, OTC is 21 per cent of the $20-billion pharmaceutical industry in India.

She also wants to transform the HR processes of the healthcare business. The company recruits 500 people per year, and she said that the quality of recruiting will have to improve, in an interview with Forbes. Since she joined the group, she has implemented cross-functional management training programs for middle and senior managers. She has also streamlined performance appraisal programs. “I wanted people to plan and finalise processes so that bonuses could be paid out in time,” she said to Forbes. She says her focus on process and systems comes from her time at McKinsey, while her ambitious nature comes from her father.

Nandini is deeply involved in philanthropic work. She gives her time to the Piramal Foundation Education Leadership programs, Piramal Sarvajal and Piramal Swasthya. Her husband Peter De Young also works at Piramal, as the CEO of Piramal Critical Care.

In an interview with Entrepreneur India, she indicated that she wants to grow the OTC business to an IPO size.

It is inspiring to see a young woman take on such big responsibilities with so much confidence!