When You Trust – Diana Melikishvili’s Pathway to Success: Polpharma in Georgia and Armenia

At the first glance, Diana Melikishvili made an impression of a very precise person with very specific thoughts. This is no surprise since after all, she is an economist, whose professional choice has never had another alternative. Like any other person dealing with numbers, Diana keeps it short, but always to the point. Although she puts it in simple terms – with no excessive agitation and expressiveness – her story is thoroughly impressive. Similar to all other success stories, Diana’s portrait illustrates that difficulties should not frighten, but rather, motivate. This brief introduction leads us to the feature story. 

Diana Melikishvili, 33, is the manager of Polpharma – the largest Polish pharmaceutical company represented in Georgia and Armenia. She tells us what shapes her success, and what determines trust and loyalty from customers and partners.

Photo Credits to Ana Boko / Forbes Woman Georgia

Being an economist, how did you end up in the field of pharmacy?

When I was 3, my family had to move to Russia due to my father’s job. I graduated from school and university in Moscow. As a matter of fact, I picked the university quite ambitiously – founded in 1907, Plekhanov Russian University of Economics has a great history, and maintains the highest rankings both within the country and worldwide.

In 2008 we decided to return to Tbilisi. Changing the environment did not come easy since I had to adapt to a completely new reality. In the search of a job, I sent my resume through various employment websites, and came across the position of sales manager in a pharmaceutical firm operating in the Caucasus.

The market in this area is large and pretty competitive – therefore, the position I applied for required much responsibility. Although back then, the field of pharmacy was unknown for me, it had captivated me in the very first moment, and later, determined my future.

I love challenges – so, I was glad to adjust to a new phase of life and started competing with myself. I have been in the pharmaceutical field for over 10 years and have never thought of moving to any other sphere. Moving forward and developing oneself do not require changing a career path – it is all possible in the field one is already engaged in.

Was it a professional risk?

It really was since I was taking my first steps. I had no knowledge of the field specifics. Nonetheless, I have always known that if one is diligent enough, s/he will definitely succeed. I was passionate about my job and was willing to accomplish it as well as possible. Passion and interest, I believe, are the greatest tools for fulfilling one’s duties efficiently.

How long have you been representing Polpharma in the region?

I have been working for the largest Polish pharmaceutical company for nearly 8 years and occupying the position of the company’s manager in Georgia and Armenia for two years. My current position came at the expense of my past experience and obtained qualifications. I believe that this success relies on my work efficiency. Never giving up, I always try to complete my job effectively, even if there is a small chance of succeeding.

Did this turn out to be a hard job? 

The hardest! Like any other businesses, this particular field is aimed at selling goods for a turnover. Weakening attention for even a moment can lead to the worst outcome, and the company might lose its position on the market. For me as a manager, therefore, the most significant task is providing Polpharma with a stable and unshakable position on the largest competitive market. I am proud to represent a company producing medicine of the highest quality – the reliability of our products is internationally recognized. Indeed, this is the biggest advantage of Polpharma.

My memory, with its “unique” ability to memorize large numbers, has served me well. It feels as if my mind has stored Excel files in my head – they are all arranged according to regions, pharmacy chains and types of medical products. Sometimes this ability scares me since I see the data very clearly – I can even remember the financial analysis completed five years ago. Facing challenges on a daily basis makes my job more and more engaging. Having no specific goal is always very hard for me.

A new and probably much bigger responsibility has been placed on you. Did you have a hard time?

Yes, indeed. Prior to being a manager, I was only in charge of some specific duties. As a manager, however, I have to deal with all sectors within the firm – be it management, financial issues, human resource management, logistics, PR or other. To be more precise, in the past I was only responsible for my activities, but now I am held accountable for the whole professional team. One of the most significant factors for me is considering and supporting the team’s needs and concerns. In fact, business is not a one-act theater – consequently, building an efficient firm is impossible without a strong team.

Rather than focusing on the present day only, I look to the future and think about the company’s further growth and development. This is the core value of the Polpharma Group, which is shared among the fellow employees. Due to the market specifics, maintaining international relations at the highest level is one of the company’s main tasks – without acquiring a market specific approach, a firm cannot exist for long. I am glad that the positions of Polpharma are growing and strengthening in both Georgia and Armenia.

Photo Credits to Ana Boko / Forbes Woman Georgia

What is the main competitive advantage of Polpharma products? 

I was quite lucky in this regard. There is practically nothing that could possibly hinder the company from introducing its products on any market. That is why, presenting Polpharma’s portfolio, one is always confident.

It is the largest pharmaceutical company with 85 years of experience, whose medical products are manufactured to the highest standards of the European Union and their effectiveness has been proven by numerous clinical trials. The company is also the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in Poland and its products are used by other major pharmaceutical industries in the world.

The company lists nearly 700 products in its portfolio. In cooperation with its strategic partners, Polpharma has 5 research centers and a fund sponsoring research and talented scientists.

What makes customers loyal to Polpharma products? 

Everything listed above is known to Georgian consumers as well. We try our best to inform everyone about the company’s standards and specifics. For this, we use various communication methods. Although I believe that the main factor shaping consumers’ loyalty is the exceptional quality of the medical products. Polpharma marks 15 years on the Georgian market. This time turned out to be enough for testing the effectiveness of Polpharma’s medical products. 

In addition to 100% reliable products, the image of the company is also important. The firm’s international slogan is “People help people.” In Georgia, however, we use the sub-slogan – “When you trust.” In the case of medical products, trust is crucial.

Furthermore, we spare no resources for building a meaningful relationship with our customers, which is not just sales oriented. That is why we broadcast an online program – “Theme of the Week” – where invited doctors discuss the issues of the public interest.

Medical products manufactured by Polpharma – Aquadetrim, Aquadetrim Plus, Ibufen, Bobotik, Benodil, Cevicap, Acidolac Sachet, Foxil Gel, Biotraxon, Pyrantel, Phytolysin, Trichopolare – are especially in high demand on the Georgian market. These are drugs that do not require special introduction and their effectiveness has been tested over time.

Do you remember the best advice you have ever received?

My father has always advised me to tell the truth and be victorious. In fact, he raised me with this value. All my life I have been following this piece of advice – it is suitable for any situation and relationship. It is clear that hearing the truth is not always pleasant, neither for me nor for anyone else. Yet, the truth always wins. And so, why shouldn’t we be true from the very start?!

Photo Credits to Ana Boko / Forbes Woman Georgia

Who are your parents?

My mother is a violinist – she graduated from the conservatory. My father is an economist. He has always been running his own business. From early childhood, I have been amazed by his work. The best reward for me was “doing business” in my father’s office.

Do you think that women and men take a different approach to their work?

I do not think that gender is crucial. The main factor determining job efficiency is one’s character and abilities.

What is your main motivation in life?

I do not need special reasons for motivation – as I already stated, I need to be interested in a particular issue – this interest automatically motivates me. The most important part of my life, however, is my spouse and children.

Do you have enough time for everything?

Today, I have an opportunity to spend my time out of the office. This is a luxury for me since for the past 7-8 years, I have been practically living at work. Perhaps, balancing work and the private life is extremely significant. However, sometimes one has to upset this balance.

What are your future plans?

My plans, of course, do not go beyond the pharmaceutical field and are largely related to the development of Polpharma and the strengthening of its position in the region. But, at the same time, I wish to do something different in the field of pharmacy. Something that will be innovative for Georgia. Let’s talk about this in the future.