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Dialogue with CEO: Dr Sanjeev Panchal, Country President, AstraZeneca Malaysia

14 Jun 2021

The Dialogue with CEO series brings together business leaders from a variety of industries with unique background and experiences. These CEOs share their struggles and triumphs, giving participants the opportunity to learn and be inspired by the CEOs. Amongst the topics discussed are their rise up the career ladder, the challenges faced and solutions to overcome those challenges, the opportunities and threats to their business, culture adaptation in the various organisations they have been attached with, leadership styles, mentorship, strategic planning and how to motivate and inspire team members.

On 12 May 2021, Dr Sanjeev Panchal provided such insights on his journey to becoming the Country President of AstraZeneca, Malaysia. During the one-hour online webinar, Sanjeev shared with the online audience, comprising 50 students and staff from the International Medical University, on his 18-year journey in AstraZeneca. He started off with a Science degree, obtained his MBA in Marketing and pursued a Diploma in Human Resource Management prior to obtaining his PhD.

He brings with him extensive work experience having worked in India, Indonesia, Singapore, the UK and now in Malaysia. During his time in the UK, he provided strategic direction for the commercial business in international markets such as the Asia Area, Latin America, Middle East as well as Brazil, Russia and ANZ. Having worked in various leadership roles and regions, one of Sanjeev’s strongest assets is his ability to thrive in a multicultural environment, turnaround business to growth and work with diverse cultures.


Part of the reason of why he loves his job is his sense of purpose, which is aligned with his organisation’s mission is to assist patients and society. He finds that personal values are important, especially in having a passion in solving challenging problems in any aspect of the organisation. Other qualities which Sanjeev admires are drive, resilience and tenacity, which is necessary in the challenging pandemic scenario the world is facing in 2020-2021. Sanjeev feels that having the right values is important and he shares this in raising his two children with the right values and behaviours. Another aspect that is important is to be authentic, and he finds authenticity an important aspect in being a leader as it allows one to connect with others.

During the online dialogue, he articulated that there should be a coherence between the individual’s and organisation’s values. In his role as a leader, he had to build teams that are equal to the challenges. To achieve this, it was important to build a talent force that is inclusive and diverse and provide them with opportunities for training and growth.

At the webinar, he was asked about entrepreneurship and how it can be championed. Sanjeev suggested that AstraZeneca promotes innovation as an organisation and this can be linked to the value of entrepreneurship. Additionally, entrepreneurship requires values such as resilience, drive, tenacity and more importantly, the purpose in which drives the entrepreneurial effort. Universities can teach elements of entrepreneurship through case studies, which has been proven successful in many institutions of higher learning. In the pharmaceutical field as well as in other areas of healthcare, Sanjeev found that big data and analytics have been employed together with artificial intelligence to solve challenges such as recognition of the occurrence of lung cancer in x-rays. These areas have great prospects for its implementation in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries in the future. In his final parting advise to students and listeners on the webinar, Sanjeev suggested to reflect on oneself as to one’s own capability and to invest in lifelong learning. Also, find mentors or coaches that can assist in one’s career progression. To navigate through any challenges, he advised that it is important to align oneself with the values of the organisation, be authentic and always be guided by the principle of doing the right thing. He opined that these traits would take you further in life.

Dr Sanjeev Panchal – Country President for AstraZeneca Malaysia

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