Vinita Gupta

When Vinita Gupta brought Lupin Pharmaceuticals to the United States, few knew how successful the venture would become – except, perhaps, her father.

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Vinita Gupta has been in the pharmaceuticals business since she was born. And that’s only a slight exaggeration. She came into the world in 1968, the same year her father, Dr. Desh Bandhu Gupta, founded Lupin Ltd. in Mumbai, India.

Today, the company has products reaching more than 70 countries, its founder ranks among India’s most successful entrepreneurs, and his daughter is following in his footsteps.

As a child, Vinita Gupta watched her father bring ideas to life. “Dad would come home from work and talk about a strategic issue or an opportunity,” she recalls. “What you saw at home was always passion, passion, passion. I was in awe of what he did.

“My father is a visionary from a business standpoint, but he’s also a humane person. He’s always been very inclusive. He invited thoughts from everyone around the table, both at home and at work. How can you not be part of that?”

Gupta is clearly cut from the same cloth.

In 2003, she founded Baltimore-based Lupin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (LPI), a subsidiary of Lupin Ltd., to expand into the US market. “We had so much business around us when we were growing up,” she says. “I always wanted to find a way to add value to it. Getting the company into the US market became a very nice mission for me.”

In the next few years, we should see the company growing to multiple times its size.

Gupta earned her MBA at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University and has lived in the US for many years now.

“If you have a very good business model and you’re persistent enough to see it through,” she says, “I feel that the chances of success in the US are much higher than in many other parts of the world. The scale of opportunities and the conducive environment for start-ups in the country makes the US a unique market.”

In 10 years, Gupta has turned Lupin Pharmaceuticals into a remarkable success. It now has three brands and 40 generics under its belt with revenues of more than US$500m, and it ranks as the fifth largest and the fastest growing generics business in the US by prescriptions sold.

She was also the winner of the inaugural EY US Family Business Award of Excellence.

Gupta attributes this success to a good strategy and an excellent team.

“We had targeted the generics market with a pipeline that we knew would succeed,” she explains.

“We also got into the brand business, which was more entrepreneurial, but again with a very clear mission. At that time, US companies were consolidating, so it was an opportunity for us to attract the best talent. We’ve done extremely well, but we treat what we have created so far as a foundation. Based on this foundation and the growth drivers we are pursuing, the sky’s the limit!”

Gupta’s not exaggerating. She plans to take her business to more than US$1b in revenues by March 2015. “Today, the US business is 35% of Lupin’s global turnover and a bigger part of our profit,” she explains.

“In the next few years, we should see the company growing to multiple times its size. We have a total of 170 products filed in the US, of which we have launched 40. We have 30 to 40 products coming to market each year for the next few years. Just in the next 12 months, we have the potential to double our portfolio.”

Forging her own path

Gupta’s father, who is Chairman of Lupin Ltd., has been his daughter’s greatest supporter in opening up the developed nations market. “It was a difficult decision to get into the developed markets given the risk and investment,” she says, “but my father was 100% behind me.”

He has given his daughter free rein to run LPI as she chooses, though she keeps him informed about every critical decision she makes.

Gupta believes she and her father have a similar leadership style. She has tried to emulate the connection he has with his staff and the culture of the business, which she passionately believes is vital to LPI’s growth.

“From an opportunity standpoint, I’m very much like him,” she adds. “I’m looking for those moves that can differentiate our company, the entrepreneurial strokes that can change the complexion of the organization. But I also have the other side — an eye for detail — while my father’s strengths have always been the big picture.”

Too many details can become overwhelming, however. So, two years ago, she brought Paul McGarty, former CEO of Nycomed US, on board as President, giving her time to focus on the company’s culture, growth drivers, pipeline, acquisition opportunities and strategic plan.

She is also closely involved with the parent company, traveling to India at least eight times a year and talking to fellow board members almost daily.

The parent company, Lupin Ltd., is majority owned by the Gupta family and she laughs off any suggestions of selling it.

If it is to remain their “family legacy,” as she describes it, the question of succession is an inevitable one. Gupta doesn’t seem concerned about this for now. Her brother Nilesh is her “counterpart” in India, looking after R&D, supply chain and daily management, and she believes that one day they will run the company together.

She does not, however, anticipate leaving the US, its biggest market.

Could her seven-year-old son Krish also play a part in Lupin’s future? While she wants him to follow his own dreams, she laughs: “My mission is to continue this legacy and I will try to lure as many of the next generation as possible into the business!”

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