By SHABBIR H. KAZMI
Dec 03 - 09 , 2001
Abbas Hasan Bilgrami was born in Karachi in 1956. He
got Bachelor in Pharmacy degree from University of Karachi in 1978 and
Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Quaid-e-Azam University,
Islamabad, in 1981. The unique combination of professional
qualifications has enabled him to work in senior position in Pakistan as
well as abroad. At present he is working as Sales and Marketing Manager
(Healthcare Products) at 3M Pakistan, a wholly owned, Pakistani
subsidiary of a Fortune 500 Corporation. He initiated the Healthcare
operations of 3M in Pakistan and also spearheaded local manufacturing
operation, in close collaboration with company's International
PAGE: 3M is generally known in Pakistan as a
leading manufacturer of magnetic media, what are its other areas of
HASAN BILGRAMI: 3M serves fast-growing high-tech
markets such as electronics, telecommunications and optical systems.
Dynamic, high-growth markets currently account for a quarter of 3M's
sales. During the year 2000, the Company experienced one of the highest
levels of innovation in its history, generating US$ 5.6 billion —
nearly 35 per cent of total sales — from products introduced during
the past four years, with over US$ 1.5 billion of sales coming from
products introduced in year 2000. Dynamic, high-growth markets currently
account for a quarter of 3M's sales. During the year 2000, the Company
experienced one of the highest levels of innovation in its history,
generating US$ 5.6 billion — nearly 35 per cent of total sales —
from products introduced during the past four years, with over US$ 1.5
billion of sales coming from products introduced in year 2000.
PAGE: Tell us more about your specific area of
HASAN: 3M established its corporate office in
Pakistan in 1995 focusing selected groups of product, including medical
consumables with proper clinical back-up. This area was often ignored by
many multinational companies as they preferred to market their products
through agents. 3M made specific efforts to educate doctors and para-medical
staff by conducting awareness and training programmes for following
procedures and standards. The integral parts of this awareness programme
are, emphasis on avoiding post operation infection and creating aseptic
environment in both public and private hospitals. This is to avoid
indiscriminate use of antibiotics which not only adds cost but also
results in resistance even against fourth generation antibiotics.
PAGE: Why in your opinion, special care is
desired after operation?
HASAN: A common saying is that prevention is
better than cure. People are advised by the doctors to take maximum
preventive measures to avoid ailment. This is based on the premise that
most of the medicines, in one way or the other, disturbs the body
equilibrium and have some side effects. This disturbance often causes
further complications. The specific care is more important in pre and
post operations. This specifically demands aseptic environment in
operations theaters. This was the main objective, which prompted 3M to
establish its business operations in Pakistan.
PAGE: What has been the experience?
HASAN: To tell you the truth, most of the doctors
and paramedical staff appreciate the importance of the educational
programmes. Their particular appreciation is for the scientific and
clinical back up that is presented as part of the educational programme.
I am saying this as a result of interaction with a large number of
people. Saying this much, I would also say that the results have been
very encouraging. Our team is regularly invited by various hospitals to
conduct awareness programme. This is also evident by the increase in
sales of our products.
PAGE: What has been the response of Health
HASAN: Previously hardly any
specifications/details were given to the suppliers. However, 3M has
succeeded in incorporating product specifications in tenders being
issued by federal and provincial governments. We have not done this to
achieve any unfair advantage for us but we only wanted that apples
should be compared with apples and not oranges.
PAGE: What are your comments about the general
perception that 3M products are very expensive?
HASAN: I have said earlier that apples should
only be compared with apples. Most of 3M products are innovative and
have been introduced by the Corporation for the first time. A lot of
money has been invested in research and development. For example our
surgical tapes should not be compared with ordinary masking tapes
available at stationery shops. Since both the products are meant for
different use, they have different specifications and different pricing
structure. Even when we started our operations in Pakistan, we did not
insisted on using 3M products, we only highlighted the difference in
product specification. It may be another thing that users found our
products more appropriate for the use.