Pharm. Adeshina Opanubi was, until 11th of May, 2013, a customer relations manager at Pfizer Specialties Limited. Opanubi, a 2002 pharmacy graduate of University of Lagos, joined Pfizer in 2005 as a sales representative in Ibadan, Oyo State.
In this interview with Pharmanews in Lagos, recently, he explained why he left Pfizer. He also spoke about his involvement in an industry initiative, Pharmalliance and how the project will help revolutionise the retail sector of the pharmacy profession.
Below is the full text of the interview:
When did you join Pfizer and what are your experiences working with a global leader in pharmaceuticals like Pfizer?
I joined Pfizer in 2005 as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative in Ibadan. About three years later, I was promoted to the position of customer relations manager, a position I occupied till I left the organisation. Pfizer is indeed a great organisation, and I would recommend it as a place of employment any day. In my role as a rep, I had a great time, as I had the opportunity to introduce new products and reintroduce old products that weren’t doing too well. The successes of these endeavors gave me confidence to do even more daring things. Hence once promoted to the customer relations manager position, I created more innovative engagement platforms. It started with the customer care boot camp, which started like an experiment but eventually evolved into a continental speaker tour, which annually took me to over 15 cities across Africa. Based on the success of the boot camp, which was targeted at workers in retail pharmacies, we created other fora to deal exclusively with pharmacists. This led to the creation of a software tool called the REBECA, which helps retail pharmacists calculate their break-even point. Working with Pfizer was indeed a great experience, as the organisation gave me a great platform to implement some wild ideas I had, most of which paid off anyway.
What prompted your decision to resign from Pfizer?
It was one of the most difficult decisions I have taken, so far, and till date most people don’t understand or agree with it. First and foremost, it was a divine call; hence I didn’t have to think too hard about it. With this mandate clearly given, I looked back at my work in Pfizer and concluded it was high time I tried my hands out on some of the very wild dreams I had. I believed I had concluded my assignment at Pfizer and couldn’t execute the massive plans I had for the pharmaceutical industry whilestill in Pfizer, as this would clearly give rise to a conflict of interest. You would know that, before now, I have been involved with a number of industry initiatives, such as “The Panel”, an annual retail pharmacy business summit, which has run for 5 years now; the Excellence in Hospital Pharmacy Conference held in 2012; our innovative website, www.rxevolution.com.ng and so much more. The prospect of a bright future, backed by the divine call, I guess helped me make up my mind to leave Pfizer.
With the new challenges you have set for yourself, where do you hope to bein the next five years?
In five years, I hope to have left a permanent stamp on the pharmaceutical landscape in Nigeria. By July, we will launch a massive project that would revolutionise the retail sector of our profession. It is called PHARMALLIANCE. Visit www.pharmalliance.rxevolution.com.ng. It is set to liberate retail pharmacists and help them achieve their true potential. I see a huge gap in the areas of capacity building, market research and so many other areas, and I look forward to being a part of the solution. I would be doing a lot of consulting for individuals, corporate organisations, groups and associations, and even regulatory agencies in the immediate future.
You must have a whole lot of cash to achieve these dreams.
I wish I could agree with you. I seem to have broken all the rules of transiting from paid employment into entrepreneurship. I don’t have any money stashed away and I don’t have any confirmed contracts that would keep me going. I resigned from Pfizer because I believe God has told me it is time to set out. I believe He will send provision to back up the vision and I believe I have great ideas, which would solve problems and bring money. One thing, however, that I am very rich in is in contacts and goodwill. I thank God for people who believe in me and are always on hand to support any initiative I roll out. I can’t but mention people like Prince Julius AdelusiAdeluyi, Pharm. Jimi Agbaje,Pharm. Ike Onyechi, Pharm.Bukky George, Pharm.AbiolaAdekunle, Pharm.RemiAdeseun, Pharm.& Pharm.(Mrs) Chris Ehimen, among many others.
What will you say is the greatest challenge facing pharmacy practice in Nigeria today and how can it be surmounted?
I describe the terrain of pharmacy as one littered with pieces of diamonds and broken dreams. There are so many challenges facing pharmacy and pharmacists. I would say the greatest is lack of cohesiveness among colleagues. This has made us very vulnerable to all sorts of attack from the opposition. We have opposition from the most educated professionals to the worst of stark illiterates, who can barely write their names. I believe if we put our acts together and fight our common enemies, in no time, pharmacists would be the subject of national envy.