In conversation with Sameer Lal

7 Apr 2021
In conversation with Sameer Lal

Sameer, Senior Vice President, Business Development, sat down with us to discuss his journey at Indegene over the last 15 years. In sepia tones of nostalgia and hustle, he recounts his journey. Interviewed by Anjali Lal, Talent Branding Lead at Indegene.

Anjali: Hi Sameer! How are you? Let's start from the very beginning. You joined Indegene 15 years ago. What inspired you to join the company in those days?

Sameer: Hi Anjali! Doing absolutely great. And yes, let's start from there. I joined right after Indegene's first acquisition – Medsn in the US. I was amongst the first few who were deputed from India to help the integration of the two companies. The draw for me was the opportunity to experience – firsthand – the most complex healthcare market in the world – the US.

Anjali: And what was it like to work in the first few years?

Sameer: The initial few years were spent in steadying the ship, setting up global delivery operations that had never been attempted in this space, and to learn new tricks all at the same time. That meant rolling up our sleeves and doing whatever it takes. In that sense, not much has changed since then! What has changed are robust processes, governance, and mechanisms that we now take for granted. And working geographically distributed comes much more easily than it used to back then.

I still remember the preparation we had to do for our global client visit to our Bangalore office (they went on to become our largest client). Our entire office was renovated, and the amount of preparation was insane. And we all learnt so much from that visit. In contrast, pre-COVID, we used to host a client visit every week!

What has kept us going is a core group of people who have remained since then and a steady replenishment of fresh hires and experienced staff who have allowed us to expand our boundaries continuously.

Anjali: Amazing Sameer! Also, you grew from Sr. Director Account Mgt. & Client Services to SVP Business Development in 15 years. What do you think helped in this growth?

Sameer: I am immensely grateful for the opportunities that the company has provided along the way. Stints in program operations, preSales, client services, account management, sales, and now managing a P&L have all helped to hone me as a professional. I soaked up all the experiences and was continuously looking for fresh challenges. And building relationships – internal and external.

As an individual who thrives on variety and multi-tasking, I could not have asked for more. Plus, the opportunity to travel was the icing on the cake. Meeting new people, experiencing different cultures, learning the history, tasting the cuisines, and trying various languages all came along the way. Oh, by the way, I completed a million miles of flying as well!!!

Anjali: In all these years, did you find any mentor at Indegene who supported you in your journey?

Sameer: Once again, I have significantly been fortunate to have worked closely with all the Founders and to have reported to 3 of them at various times (Rajesh at the start, Sanjay in the middle, and now Manish). In their own ways, all of them have allowed me to taste success, learn from my failures, and experiment along the way.

Anjali: I noticed that you have only worked in the Pharmaceutical industry throughout your career. Where do you think Indegene is positioned in the industry?

Sameer: Yes, Pharma and life sciences are the only verticals that I have experience in. I am proud of Indegene being at the intersection of domain and technology. Our positioning and capabilities have allowed Indegene to thrive in the last year when everyone else was in the throes of the pandemic. Our proposition was at the right place and for the right time. We can only grow exponentially from here.

Anjali: Absolutely! And What do you like about the culture at Indegene?

Sameer: At campus interviews and to new joinees, I consistently reinforce the fact that even though we are a 20-year-old company, at heart, we are still a start-up. Entrepreneurship is the core of our culture. Innovation is what drives us, and collaboration is what differentiates us. For anyone who is a self-starter, who can thrive in ambiguity, and has a huge willingness to learn, Indegene is the place to be in.

Anjali: If I were to ask you your fondest memory at Indegene, what would your answer be?

Sameer: I still remember our first annual sales meeting in Bangalore in 2008 when the entire US team crossed the $5 million mark for the entire year!!! Now we do more than that in less than a week.

Anjali: On an ending note, what, according to you, is your proudest achievement at Indegene?

Sameer: Today, as I look around the global workforce at Indegene, I feel extremely proud seeing co-workers that are much smarter than I am, more passionate than I ever was, and filled with energy and enthusiasm to shame a toddler, I feel very confident of the future that is in front of us.