Maher Al Ghannam

Maher Al Ghannam is CEO of Avalon Pharma Having established itself as a leading Saudi pharmaceutical company, Avalon Pharma is looking farther afield and seeking to replicate its success in the Middle East and beyond.

How is Avalon positioned to lead the transformation and the “biopharma century” Saudi is experiencing?

Avalon is a Saudi company that was established in 1998. We create brands that make a difference to our consumers. This is how we built the brand. We develop the manufacturing industry by providing high-quality generic brands, healthcare products, and cosmetics. We are the number-one derma company in Saudi Arabia and one of the leaders in respiratory, topical medicine preparations, topical analgesics, local anesthetics, and certain categories. In terms of pharmaceutical and healthcare products, we are one of the market leaders. We are a brand that makes a difference to our consumers. We always work to align our product offerings and innovation pipeline with the real needs of consumers: we are client-oriented, and we focus on our partnership with our key customers. We engage closely with healthcare professionals. Avalon wants to be a key contributor when it comes to innovation. As for transformation, in alignment with the vision, we are studying the possibility of entering the high-tech sector and products. Our R&D and business development are working heavily not only on our innovation platform but also to put up a plan to tackle this sector in the next five to 10 years. It is a long-term project.

How is Avalon positioned to impose its brand within the region as an ambassador of the quality of Saudi-made products?

We are proud to be a Saudi company that builds great brands for Saudi consumers while maintaining high quality. Saudi Arabia will always be the main focus of Avalon Pharma, though growing regionally is one of our strategic directions currently. We want to become the fastest-growing business in Saudi; at the same time, in line with Vision 2030, we have an aggressive innovation pipeline that will support us in being one of the leading companies in the region. We are one the fastest-growing company among Saudi’s top 20 companies. We just opened an office in Dubai, and we are going through a complete transformation in all our commercial and marketing strategies wherein we will be able to better understand consumers not only within Saudi but also in the region. We export to more than 10 countries, though it is not just exporting; we want to call it regional expansion and presence. Currently, our three manufacturing plants are in Riyadh. For geographic expansion in terms of manufacturing facilities and plants, we might establish a factory in a targeted country depending on where we want to expand.

Can you elaborate on the company’s approach to human resources, and how you foster and retain the best talent available in the market?

We treat our employees as the most important asset of our company. We never would have achieved our success if we did not have the right talents and capabilities. We have people who spent decades with the company, and we have managed to retain them. We have Saudi and non-Saudi nationals. In the past three years, we focus on our transformation to not just retain our employees but also develop them and give them a future and a career path so that they will stay. Without our people, we will not be able to achieve our objectives and to keep them, we must let them feel they are important to the company. Performance management, performance development, succession planning—all these HR cycles should be managed properly to ensure we have the right team to build the business with us. We partner with universities, and we trained more than 3,000 student pharmacists in our factories and head office with the medical and regulatory departments. We are also engaged with universities to find fresh talents to work with us. We hire women in development, marketing and finance, regulatory, quality assurance, quality control, and HR, and this is also aligned with the Saudi directions and vision.

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