– As Pharmanews celebrates 42nd anniversary
Pharmanews Publisher, Pharm. (Sir) Ifeanyi Atueyi, has revealed some of the secrets behind the success of the journal over the years, describing himself as a faithful steward of the business, while ascribing actual ownership to God.
Speaking in a special interview to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of the publication, Atueyi recounted some memorable milestones achieved by Pharmanews Limited over the years, especially the uninterrupted publication of its flagship journal, despite several challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Pharmanews boss also emphasised the vital place of honesty and integrity in business, saying any business built on dishonesty may make money for a while but will not prosper for long. He added that the integrity culture is so intrinsically woven into the Pharmanews business that every member of staff understands that it is a non-negotiable area when relating with clients.
The octogenarian also hinted on the succession plan for the business, saying the future of the business is primarily in God’s hands, as well as in the unflinching dedication of the people around him who have bought into the company’s vision and are passionately committed to making it a continued success. Enjoy the excerpts:
Congratulations on the 42nd anniversary of Pharmanews. Many businesses were adversely affected by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, with some unable to survive. How did your company manage the situation?
Your statement is true because many businesses were adversely affected in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year but at Pharmanews, how we managed is still beyond my imagination. Last year, two key staff of the company left in the first three months of the year just before the lockdown. The remaining staff members could not come to the office but quickly adjusted to working from home. We couldn’t print hard copies but only published online. Our meetings were held virtually, on Zoom.
Surprisingly, however, when the year ended, we discovered that we performed much better than the previous year. I realised that it was not because of our efforts but God’s intervention. While some businesses recorded losses, we enjoyed the grace of God.
Our business primarily depends on satisfying the needs of the pharmaceutical industry and during that period, we did not relax. The staff kept reaching out to the companies and all transactions were accomplished online. I attribute our performance to simply the grace of God.
What are your views on pharmacists not being carried along in the vaccination process in Nigeria?
As a pharmacist, if I want to vaccinate anyone, I would join the team and undergo the necessary training for the vaccination process. There are pharmacists who are part of the process. There are non-pharmacists, non-nurses, non-healthcare personnel that have been recruited and trained for that purpose as well.
I cannot imagine a pharmacist showing interest in the vaccination process and the government rejects him. So, if you are a pharmacist and you are interested in the vaccination process, go ahead and present yourself as a volunteer to participate. At the centre where I received my jab of the vaccine, for instance, the officials complained of shortage of staff.
You are nearly 82 years old and by any standard, you have lived a long and fruitful life; are there secrets you would like to share about your longevity?
I believe that if you live well and right, you are going to live healthy and long. Many things can bring problems to the body. For example, emotional stress is responsible for many diseases that afflict man. Therefore, I try to avoid living a stressful life.
The work I am doing at Pharmanews perfectly fits my life. If I were in any other place where I am not enjoying the work, maybe it might have affected my health. Here, I am relaxed. My work at Pharmanews is like my hobby and no more work. I love and enjoy it and see the results.
Another thing that is helping me is the fact that I have a sense of contentment. I am not a rich man but I do not lack anything good. There is nothing God wants me to have that I do not have. I don’t envy anybody. I believe I am the most blessed of all the people I know. I am fulfilled.
Also, I am a serious worker, but I rest well. I do not miss afternoon nap. Since I started Pharmanews 42 years ago, I don’t take lunch outside, except during certain functions. Coincidentally, my wife also does not go outside for work. After lunch in my house, I usually go to bed for my siesta. This has been helping me maintain fairly good health.
I try to eat right and take my supplements, and God has blessed me with peace in my family and business life.
Has your faith helped in sustaining your business?
Yes, very much. I am a Christian. I have learnt a lot from the Word of God. One thing I know is that, even though I say Pharmanews is my business, I am not truly the owner of the business. Pharmanews is God’s business. I am just a steward taking care of His business and accountable to Him.
This is my fundamental belief and that is why I have the confidence that, as God owns Pharmanews, He is committed to keep it going and to succeed. God has all the resources to run this business. It is God that planted me here for a purpose. As the owner of the business, He has the final decisions in all matters affecting the company. He is my boss and I take instructions from Him.
Sir, what is your succession plan for Pharmanews at 42?
I can only tell you the beginning of Pharmanews and not the end. Only God that knows the future. Of course, God has asked us to plan according to Proverbs 16:3 and present the plans to Him. Proverbs 19:21 tells me that whatever may be the succession plans in my heart, it is the Lord’s purpose that will prevail eventually.
Today, I am working in such a way that my input into Pharmanews is getting less and less and my worries and efforts are also less these days. That means that other people are doing most of the work, by delegation. There is nothing I am doing now that no one in Pharmanews cannot do. What is important in business is the vision. When people buy into the vision, you have succeeded.
We have vision. We have tasks we set for ourselves. We shall continue to be the leading health journal, claiming the promise in Deuteronomy 28:12, of being the head and not the tail. We shall not borrow. We have been the champion since the first edition in 1979 and we have never borrowed.
Pharmanews will be published uninterrupted. Even if I go on sabbatical leave for a year or quench today, this vision remains undaunted. Those who are here will continue. Pharmanews has dedicated staff that work as a team and family. So, whether I am here or not, these things are engraved in the minds of the staff.
Also, I have wonderful children who will ensure that their father’s business should not die with him. They know Pharmanews is their heritage. This is one great honour they will accord me posthumously.
Please bear in mind that God’s purpose for Pharmanews is not just for me to make a living. God designed Pharmanews to impact Pharmacy in Nigeria and make it known to the whole world. By God’s grace, we have continued to work towards that purpose to fulfil our destiny.
What are your advice to the upcoming business owners?
From my experience, there must be honesty and integrity in business. Any business built on dishonesty can make money but may not prosper in God’s eyes. At Pharmanews, we believe in integrity. We do not tell lies or deceive our clients. We do not give or receive bribes.
My office door is never closed whenever I am in. Whatever you want to say, say it, let everyone hear. There is nothing to hide in my office. No secret. When my door is closed, that means I am not in.
Business owners should aspire to enjoy God’s blessing by endeavouring to please Him in all operations. He is the source of our success and prosperity.