When it comes to implementing Scaling Up, the important thing to remember is that the framework is built around four key decisions: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.
For many business leaders, it makes sense to start with a focus on strategy, execution and cash. After all, these are the areas that bring the most direct and measurable ROI. It’s much harder to get a quantitative measure on how the decisions around people really impact your business.
However, not focusing on your people can be detrimental. Your people are the ones driving your strategy and implementation. So if this pillar is shaky, you risk collapsing your entire organization.
So how can you effectively manage the people in your organization to elevate company growth?
I met with George Saadan, the People Operations (HR) Director for EVA Pharma, for a chat to get his perspective on this.
Behind the HR Curtains of a Fast-Growing Company
EVA Pharma is one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in Egypt.
With 3,000 loyal staff, EVA Pharma’s roots in Egypt expanded into becoming a very successful international pharmaceutical company. They now have more than 160 pharmaceutical products in 46 countries. Equally impressive is their Compound Annual Growth Rate of 27.30% over the last three years, making it one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in the region.
Developing, deploying, and leading a team of 3,000 towards more great accomplishments than what EVA Pharma had achieved during previous years is no easy feat. According to George, it is the Scaling Up methodology that should play a crucial role in keeping the people in his organization aligned to achieve more for such a great company and for the pharma industry:
“It all began when our CEO, Riad Armanious, learned about ‘Scaling Up’ from Harvard Business School. He encouraged the leadership team to read Verne’s ‘Scaling Up’ book and implement the concepts within the book. The very first pillar we decided to focus on was ‘People’ because our number one challenge at the time was keeping the alignment within the senior executive team.”
“By implementing the tools from ‘Scaling Up’ and making our first focus strengthening our ‘People Pillar’, we noticed an immediate improvement. Not only was our team more aligned, we also had more focus. Before reading the book, we were challenged to stay focused on certain KPIs. When our team was more aligned, our focus improved and with that, it allowed us to grow more.”
Implementing the tools to align and focus their team was the groundwork they needed to expand their company globally.
“We were already big in the Egyptian market,” explains George. “With improved alignment and focus, we were able to take our growth to the next level and enter the international market. By implementing Scaling Up, we got a significant improvement in doing this.”
Developing Team Alignment and A-Players Across the Organization
One of the most significant tools that transformed EVA Pharma’s team alignment was establishing meeting rhythms across the organization.
“After successfully implementing the meeting rhythms with our senior management team, we rolled it out for other teams at the different levels of the organization to follow.”
“When everybody gets to other members of their team every day to discuss their priorities and get help to overcome any challenges they face, the results in terms of team alignment are spectacular.”
George took this a step further by learning how to invest and develop his current team - specifically with recruiting A-players. One of the resources that Verne Harnish recommends to complement the Scaling Up methodology is a course called “Topgrading” by Dr. Brad Smart.
For George, the lessons he learned from “Topgrading” seamlessly integrated with the Scaling Up structures they had already implemented.
“It significantly shifted and improved our methodology of hiring and promoting people. It has helped us to hire top candidates and place key players in the right positions of our organizations where they can create their best impact.”
Steering the Team Towards a United Vision
EVA Pharma has a very noble vision: Empower the fight for health and wellbeing as a human right. Their mission began in Africa and now they’re ready to scale up to impact the larger global market.
Every year, they used certain KPIs to drive them towards their BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal). The issue was how to clearly communicate these numbers to the team due to the large number of employees spread out across different offices.
That’s when the leadership team at EVA Pharma decided to take their implementation of the Scaling Up methodology to the next level by enrolling themselves in the Scaling Up Master Business Course.
During the course, the team received guidance on how to utilize the One Page Strategy Plan (OPSP) and dove deep into how they would break down their BHAG and KPIs into one page. With the essence of their vision now summarized into one page, communicating to their team becomes a much clearer and efficient task.
“The course makes your mind go into other areas and think about it deeply. We gained a different perspective, and now I believe that our OPSP will improve the strategy, operations, and execution of the different elements of what we do in the upcoming few months, or even years,” says George with confidence.
“It has really made a big difference to have everything consolidated onto one page. Things have really improved. For example, it helped us focus on our quarterly KPIs, because now it was easy to see them all on one page.'
A Contagious Enthusiasm
Having started the Scaling Up journey with the book before transitioning to the Master Business Course, George found that the live classes and masterminds allowed him and his team to deepen their understanding of the tools they were implementing.
“I discovered that we were very advanced in Scaling Up terminology and implementing its concepts. And that’s because we had a head start with the book. But I also discovered, to my delight, that there were a lot of people who can add to our Scaling Up knowledge.”
“For example, I learned more about the components of the OPSP during the Q&A session with the coach. Listening to other people’s questions get answered during the live sessions and within the Mastermind also exposed us to a lot of different issues. And this fresh take gives us new perspectives we’ve never considered before.”
George also found the energy of the classes itself contagious, something that he did not experience from the book alone.
“To see Verne himself talk enthusiastically about the concepts just rubs off on you. This enthusiasm is contagious, and it reflects on me directly. I was excited to learn more and read more. I would look forward to the live sessions and discover more eye-opening insights to apply. The whole experience was simply very interesting, and I don’t hesitate recommending it to anyone who wants to improve their business and company practices in general.”
Going in it Together
George is extremely grateful that EVA Pharma’s leadership team was involved with the Scaling Up process, from the moment their CEO recommended the book to when they enrolled for the Master Business Course together.
“Four people from EVA Pharma - including myself - enrolled in the Scaling Up Master Business Course. Each one of us held a strategic leadership position. Attending the course together meant that we could discuss certain topics from everyone’s perspectives, and then create certain initiatives for implementation.”
Being in the course together also made it easier for them to collectively relay what they learned to their senior executive teams. Having said that, George foresees benefit for their senior executive team to attend the course.
“I’ve been telling them that they can benefit from attending this course,” he says. “It would help them to know more about the benefits of applying Scaling Up initiatives. In fact, I believe that senior executive teams of any company should attend this course.”
Putting People First
From George’s experience, it’s clear to see that when you put your people first, profits will follow. When your team has a clarity on where you want to go and they have clear expectations of what’s needed from them, implementation becomes a much smoother experience for everyone.
George has no regrets that they decided to focus on the “People pillar” first. Making sure they had the tools and systems to keep their team of 3,000 people aligned was the foundation needed to propel EVA Pharma from a leading pharmaceutical company in Egypt to completing its journey in reaching international waters.
Today, EVA Pharma is ranked as one of the biggest/leading pharmaceutical companies in Egypt in terms of volume and sales, beating many other well-established pharmaceutical companies.
With continued investment in their people, EVA Pharma’s future growth is certainly something to look out for.
EVA Pharma is a purpose-driven team that strives to save and improve millions of lives by sustainably offering accessible high value medicines and health care solutions that address local patients’ needs.
Join Scaling Up Master Business Course
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