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For Dr. Harshvadan “Harsh” Maroo, helping people live better lives did not end when he retired from Pfizer in 2005. In the 13 years since, he has devoted himself to tackling major pressing healthcare, education and social challenges facing his home country of Kenya.
Playing a Dual Role
Trained in the United Kingdom as a hospital pharmacist and holding a Masters in Biopharmaceutics, Harsh joined Pfizer’s animal health business in Nairobi, Kenya in 1970. He played dual roles as company pharmacist and head of manufacturing for cattle dips and sprays for the control of ticks, and animal feed supplements and vitamin premixes for Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The mix of human and animal-related responsibilities was unusual but easily explained. “As a pharmacist, I was trained in the discipline of precisely mixing ingredients for human medicines and ensuring full compliance with safety regulations,” says Harsh. “Therefore, it was not a big leap for me to apply the same skills to animal health products.”
In the Fast Lane
Scholarship pharmacy students now graduated as pharmacists, 2018
Harsh implemented numerous productivity improvements to the mixing processes during his first year with Pfizer. He also successfully trained the pharmaceutical division’s sales team in the technical aspects of diabetes, hypertension, antimicrobials, arthritis, and parasitic diseases, such as schistosomiasis, helminthiasis, and protozoa.
The early exposure to Pfizer’s animal health and pharmaceutical businesses opened new opportunities for Harsh over the next 34 years. In 1977, he was appointed Marketing Director for Pfizer’s East and Central Africa Region for both divisions.
Later, he was was appointed Country Manager Zimbabwe/Regional Manager, including responsibility for a manufacturing plant in Harare, Zimbabwe. In 1992, Harsh was transferred to Johannesburg as Pharmaceutical Division Manager for South Africa. During his tenure the company launched a series of blockbuster products—Diflucan, Norvasc, Zithromax, Zoloft, Lipitor, Celebrex, and Cardura.
Still in South Africa, Harsh was appointed in 1997 as Viagra Area Development Team Leader for the Africa-Middle East Region. During his last five years with Pfizer, he was Regional Manager for the pharmaceutical business in East, Central and Anglophone West Africa, while based in Kenya.
“Pfizer was and is a great company,” says Harsh. “It offered me many diverse opportunities, which brought the best out in me.” He’s proud of the company’s history of making people’s lives better, and still cherishes the opportunities he had to mentor people who subsequently rose to senior levels within the company. He is continuing the legacy of helping others in his retirement.
A Life Dedicated to Helping Others
Wheelchair assistance to Cerebral Palsy child & mother, Kenya.
Harsh’s life after Pfizer has been guided by the belief that one should be kinder to others than is necessary. “Everyone is fighting some kind of a battle and we should be able to extend a helping hand.”
He tells the story of twelve-year old orphan Rukiya Mramba, who suffered from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma around the right eye. “We raised money for treatment and even found her a home and school.” Sadly, she passed away in 2012, but left Harsh resolved to continue helping Kenyans in need.
His resolve extends across a wide spectrum of needs. In education, he works to reduce budget shortfalls, which helps reduce drop-out rates. “I believe education is a basic right and a long-term antidote against poverty,” says Harsh.
2004 — In Uganda for opening of Pfizer aided Infectious Diseases Training Institute
In addition, he works closely with professional pharmacist organizations to mentor young pharmacists just starting their careers. He is proud to have created, in concert with his many professional colleagues, a scholarship fund for aspiring pharmacists. As of November 2018, all six scholarship recipients have become qualified pharmacists.
Harsh is also active in his community’s programs to help the elderly and special needs individuals.
Retirement Farewell from Africa Middle East President Mr. Ozer Baysal, in Bosphorus, Turkey for Mr Harsh & Mrs Rekha Maroo. July 2005 AfME Meeting.
Twice a Fellow
Having worked in Kenya and the United Kingdom, Harsh is a long-time member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) of the UK. In 2015, he was independently made a Fellow by these two esteemed professional bodies, and currently serves on PSK's Committee of Fellows.
He is presently the only RPS Fellow in Kenya and he completed 50 years as an RPS member in 2018. Harsh thanks his wife Rekha, also a UK trained pharmacist, for her support in his journey.
“It’s a great honor to be awarded Fellowships in these Societies,” says Harsh. “They validate the contributions I made to Pfizer and inspire me to continue the humanitarian work I’ve focused on since my retirement.”