Managing Director of the HealthPlus Group, Pharm. Bukky George, has charged community pharmacists to regularly evaluate their business success to ensure better performance and profitability.
She gave the charge at the 2nd Annual Alumni Lecture of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos (UNILAG), which took place at the main auditorium of the institution in Akoka, on 3 March, 2015.
Speaking at the event, which also coincided with the institution’s 30th anniversary of pharmacy education, Pharm. George said she had observed over the years that most pharmacists were laid-back and not willing to take risk in their businesses.
“As an entrepreneur, pharmacists must ever be willing to take risk,” she urged.
While advisingthe 2013/2014 graduating students present at the lecture, the HealthPlus boss recalled that from the inception of her business, her mission was to be Nigeria’s first integrated pharmacy, a dream that eventually materialised.
According to her, Healthplus commenced operation 15 years ago in a modest18-square-metre room in Ikeja GRA, with just three staff, adding that, since then, the business had progressively grown to include40 branches nationwide.
“This is why I said that you need to evaluate the success of your business from time-to-time. Being a leader is beyond just opening a store and sitting there. We all have entrepreneurial spirit and skills within us,” she said.
George, who was once a staff of GlaxoSmithKline, equally encouraged young community pharmacists to seek mentoring.
“As young pharmacists, you must learn to look at the big picture. Everything you need to know about life, you don’t know yet. Graduating from school is just a step into preparing you for the journey ahead,” she stressed.
The pharmacist-turned-entrepreneur also called for professionalism on the part of the graduating students, adding that a professional pharmacist is mature, dresses appropriately, comes to work with a good attitude, is always willing to learn, gives appropriate feedback and is a team player.
Quoting the FIP description of a professional pharmacist, George said that such pharmacist is a 7-star pharmacist who is a communicator, manager, leader and teacher.
“I believe that is what you all are. If there is anything I learnt from my role models (Aliko Dangote and Richard Branson), it is to do big things at all time. That has always been my mantra,” she said.
While emphasising the need for careful thinking and planning before venturing into the world of entrepreneurship, the retail mogul also charged the students to be confident and inquisitive.
“You need to be bold and speak as you would like to be remembered. One of your lecturers, Pharm Tosin Adeyemi, once interned with HealthPlus after his graduation. He was bold, brash and quite inquisitive, always asking questions.That is the hallmark of a good pharmacist. I encourage you to do the same wherever you find yourself,” she admonished.
Sharing Pharm. George’s optimism, Pharm. Remi Adeseun, chairman of Rodot Nigeria Limited charged the graduating students to be emboldened and empowered by their history,rather being than being enslaved by it.
“The skill-set you have acquired in the course of your training can also be deployed to create and share value in other fields such as telecommunication, sales and marketing, retail banking and management education services,” he said.
Adeseun urged the young scholars to hold on to their dreams as there would be challenges on their way to becoming outstanding pharmacists.
Sharing his personal experience, the Rodot chairman said, “Competition is in my nature. That is why it was easy for me to seek a career in pharmaceutical sales and marketing. After my internship in community pharmacy and national youth service in the hospital, I knew my future professional happiness lay in deploying the clinical pharmacy knowledge I had acquired from the university to help healthcare workers give their patients the best treatment choices using my products from my Sandoz to Novartis to Janssen-Cilag days.”
Dignitaries at the event included Prof. Olukemi Odukoya, dean, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos; Pharm. Wale Oyenuga, managing director, Evans Therapeutics and Prof. Fola Tayo, pro-chancellor and chairman of council, Caleb University.
Others were Dr Ayodele Ogunleye, chairman, UNILAG Alumni Association, Dr Arinola Joda, PSN assistant secretary, Pharm. Ike Onyechi, managing director of Alpha Pharmacy and Prof. Cecilia Igwilo, Director, Foundation Programme Unilag
According to Dr Odukoya, the lecture was intended to bring prominent and successful alumni to the campus to share their wisdom and experience with the faculty.
“Lecturers are also chosen amongst the alumni who have repeatedly proven themselves with tremendous achievements at the highest levels in their respective fields. In this way, both the students and faculty benefits in terms of alumni support and overall exposure,” she said.