Dr Priti Warke, Director, HiMedia Laboratories

Dr. Priti Warke is the Director of Cell Biology, the Head of Corporate Quality Assurance & Regulatory Affairs at HiMedia Laboratories. From a technically oriented scientist to a strong woman leader, her professional journey is a source of inspiration to many. Today, Dr. Priti has carved her name in the biosciences industry through her relentless hard work, passion, and vision.

Educational Background & Career Path

Dr. Priti completed her MBBS degree from B.J. Government Medical College, Pune, and later pursued MS in Cellular & Molecular Biology from the Catholic University of America, Washington DC. She embarked on her professional journey in R&D by working as an assistant scientist and performing bench-level work for many years. At that time, her division was in its infancy stage, so she readily took on and fulfilled numerous responsibilities.

She has been responsible for handling the highly qualified team involved in R&D and operational and administrative activities of the Cell Culture and Plant Tissue Culture business divisions. She has also played an instrumental role in starting the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine division at HiMedia.

“Over the last 20 years, I have donned many hats from day-to-day operations to product development to process optimization to sales and marketing. It has been an exciting journey so far and has not allowed me a moment of complacency,” says Dr. Priti with a smile.

HiMedia Laboratories

Established in 1976, HiMedia Laboratories is the largest Indian life science company, providing products and customized solutions to over 150 countries worldwide with an all-inclusive product range catering to microbiology, cell biology, molecular biology, plant tissue culture, biochemicals, consumables, and instruments. Initially incepted with the vision of ‘Make in India’ to help the Indian scientific fraternity, HiMedia now has a global mission to alleviate human suffering by helping facilitate research and make newer therapeutic modalities affordable.

What makes HiMedia unique in the industry is that it has made science affordable and within reach of the common scientist and students. Today, almost every small college and institute in India involved in R&D uses HiMedia products and services.

While commenting on the performance of HiMedia Laboratories over the years, Dr. Priti says, “HiMedia has delivered a stellar performance over the last few years and was successful in maintaining an 18% CAGR for a decade. During the pandemic, HiMedia launched its COVID-related testing diagnostic and transport products, due to which the company witnessed an 80% growth in its revenues.”

A Powerhouse of Tech Innovations

HiMedia Laboratories is run by a team of technocrats with vast years of industry experience. Under their leadership, HiMedia has become a powerhouse of innovation and technology.

Furthermore, Dr. Priti continues to interact with the customers directly, which gives the company a clear perspective on their requirements and issues. “I prefer going for developments within our bell curve rather than going out of the comfort zone. This entails the risk of sometimes missing the big bus but ensures a steady growth rate and ROI,” states Dr. Priti.

Tackling Challenges Head-On

As a leader, Dr. Priti has encountered many challenges over the years at HiMedia, be it organizational challenges of culture and differences in opinion between key decision-makers, to unexpected daily operational challenges to personal challenges of balancing work and family and constantly being short of time. The list is never-ending. However, Dr. Priti believes that overcoming challenges is not just about decision-making and strategy but going against the grain and taking the calculated risk once in a while. She also feels that one must do everything with a deep sense of conviction and for the cause of the greater good.

After becoming a mother of two children, one more thing deeply impacted Dr. Priti’s outlook towards work and people. “Motherhood has taught me to multitask, become an efficient time manager, and also understand that you have to accept your people with the ‘good, bad, and ugly’ in them to foster trust and loyalty,” mentions Dr. Priti.

Leadership Perspectives

According to Dr. Priti, one of the key attributes that a leader must possess is humility. It takes a lot of courage and self-confidence to say, “I don’t know” but this attitude accelerates learning and bolsters team members’ confidence. She explains, “To inspire and motivate people, you need to show them who you are, what you stand for, and what you can & cannot do. It’s also about sharing yourself with skill and showing that you are as human as they are.”

Having excelled in the leadership role for two decades, Dr. Priti opines that when leaders enable team members, they enable themselves. Even though she is constantly adapting to the newer challenges thrown sometimes by the market or competition or by the organization itself, the one firm belief she stands by is, ‘Right People at the Right Place with the Right Process.’ “Rather than just giving my best, I endeavour to bring out the best in others,” continues Dr. Priti.

Prioritizing Work Schedule

At HiMedia, Dr. Priti initially had an open-door policy. This often resulted in people coming in and out of the office with problems, turning her day into chaos and reducing productivity. It also created a burnout situation for her.

Instead of falling prey to it, Dr. Priti decided to take matters into her hands and made suitable changes that worked best for her. She stopped the open-door policy and restricted it to certain hours in a day. “It has taken me a couple of years, but now a typical day is compartmentalized into two hours for operational work and the rest of the day in tactical planning and implementation with my key team members,” shares Dr. Priti. In this way, from a daily operational firefighting mode, she has channelled her actions towards more long-term impactful goals.

As for unplugging from work, Dr. Priti loves hitting the gym in the evening, dissipating all the stress built during the day. She is also consciously increasing her social network of professionals from different fields who can enrich her life and give different angles to her thought process.

Leading through the Pandemic Crisis

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Priti took on the hand’s-on leadership approach at HiMedia to support motivate and inspire her team. Being a people person, she was not only able to address her team’s fears but also support them emotionally. A simple thing like working shoulder to shoulder in the factories on the production lines gave them confidence. She also boosted the morale of her team members and helped them find their purpose and the greater impact their work had.

In addition, Dr. Priti shares that the pandemic made her revisit the organizational culture and rethink work plans and productivity. She elaborates, “It embarked me on my two pet projects presently, lean management and making our organization come in India’s ‘Top 50 Great Places to Work.’ By lean management, we would like to significantly improve productivity, efficiency, cycle time, and cost-efficiency.”

A Roadmap Towards a Brighter Future

The HiMedia Laboratories team is currently working on product development in the bioengineering sector for applications in the food, pharma, and biotech industries. The team is also leading toward developing and manufacturing customized cell culture media for the artificial meat industries owing to the rising potential of the meat substitute market. Moreover, Dr. Priti and her team are also involved in fabricating bioinks and biopolymeric scaffolds for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and drug development. “Overall, our larger aim is to innovate and industrialize the field of bioengineering in India and worldwide,” shares Dr. Priti.

Going ahead, Dr. Priti and her team aspire to make cancer therapy affordable to the masses by making monoclonal antibodies and biosimilars easily accessible. She concludes, “Cost-effective and customized clone-specific media is one of the steps towards this goal. We are focused on this with our state-of-the-art bioprocess optimization and analytical laboratory supported by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) and National Biopharma Mission (NBM).”

For More Info: https://www.himedialabs.com/

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