- Ranbaxy under him signed in 1992 a pact with Eli Lilly of US
In the 17 years that Parvinder Singh led Ranbaxy Laboratories, he made the pharma firm a name to reckon with. Of course, he was building on the foundations his father Bhai Mohan Singh had laid in the late 1960s with the runaway success of the drug Calmpose.
After completing his PhD in the US, Parvinder Singh joined Ranbaxy in 1967 and went on to become managing director in 1982. As one contemporary noted, even when Ranbaxy was a comparatively small family-dominated firm, Parvinder envisioned a role for it as a global player led by a focus on research. Ranbaxy grew rapidly into one of India’s largest pharma firms. However, the 1980s were to also usher in a family tussle and boardroom battle between father and son in which Parvinder wrested control of the company. One of Parvinder’s big milestones came in 1992 when Ranbaxy entered into a marketing agreement with the US drug maker Eli Lilly.
Parvinder died of cancer, aged 56, in 1999, a week after announcing a succession plan that was firmly in line with his vision of professionally-run companies. He didn’t induct his sons to the company’s board, instead named senior executive D.S. Brar as the CEO. To many observers, that management style is where Parvinder’s differences with his father partly stemmed from. “He believed in recruiting the best professionals available not merely in India, but from elsewhere in the world. In every sense, he understood globalisation much before his counterparts in India,” former bureaucrat Navin Chawla wrote in Outlook in July 1999, on the death of his longtime friend and senior at St. Stephen’s College. Parvinder wished to ensure that after he passed away, the succession to professional management would be smooth, Chawla added. “In this area too, he was a pioneer. For, as is well known, in Indian industry there is little distinction between ownership and management.”