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A Portrait of a Business Lady
There are over sixty five thousand women in Ukraine who hold executive posts of various levels. According to one of the recent ratings, Lyudmyla Bezpalko, director general of Borshchahivsky Chemical and Pharmaceutics Plant, is the second among the twenty five most successful business ladies of Ukraine. Mrs Bezpalko was interviewed for the WU Magazine by Ivan DUDKIN.
Lyudmyla Bezpalko has been working at the Borshchahivsky Chemical and Pharmaceutics Plant for forty six years. She began to work at the plant at the age of eighteen as an apprentice, rose through the production and administrative ranks and at 30 she was promoted to directorship.
Such a rapid career growth indicates that she is a very bright and ambitious person. She is a gifted manager and a woman of an earnest and cheerful disposition.
The plant she manages is one of the four leading medicine producers of Ukraine. The plant doubles as a research center, the only one of its kind in Ukraine. It conducts extensive pharmaceutical research and develops new types of medicine. Fifty six pharmaceutical preparations developed at the plant’s research center have been patented.
The quality of medicines produced is very carefully controlled at the plant at all the stages of production.
About one third of the almost seven hundred people who work at the plant and at the center have higher education.
The sterile cleanness is to be found everywhere at the plant, not only in the production areas. Flowers are another feature that cannot escape a notice of a visitor who also cannot fail but be impressed by the way the production is organized, by the relations among the workers themselves and with managers, by the climate of friendliness and purposefulness.
Mrs Bezpalko, where do you hail from?
I was born in the town of Rava-Ruska in the Land of Lvivshchyna. At that time my mother was a teacher and my father was a military man. Later, the family moved to Russia and I found myself studying at a pharmaceutics college in the city of Perm. When I was in my final year of studies I met my future husband, Mykola, a handsome Ukrainian. We’ve been happily together ever since. We have one daughter and one grandson, a seven-year old boy.
Does he have any hobbies?
Yes, he does. Surprisingly enough he likes cooking — and drawing.
Do you use medicines when need be, made at your plant?
In our family we avoid, unless it is absolutely necessary, using any medicinal drugs, but if we have to, we prefer to use Ukrainian-made drugs, and of course those that are made at my plant. It does not mean we do not use sometimes imported drugs too — if we have to.
As far as I know, your plant was the first among production facilities in Ukraine to be awarded the most prestigious European quality certificate, GMP. Is that correct?
Yes, it is. We did try very hard — and we got it! At one point in the past we realized that the plant needed to be modernized — new technologies were introduced, the quality of pharmaceutical preparation was raised to a level that met the world standards and requirements. We spared no effort and put a lot of money into the plant’s modernization and into the equipment at the cutting edge of technology. Without it, there would be no future for us.
Many businesses complain that the Ukrainian system of taxation is in need of radical reforms and that they continually run into problems with the Ukrainian tax administration. Do you also face any such problems?
No, we do not. We pay taxes on time and in full compliance with law. We realize the importance of taxation for the development of our region and for the whole country.
The 1990s were a difficult time for Ukraine’s economy — there was a very big economic slump, businesses were being privatized, and often with legal violations. How did you manage to survive in those turbulent times?
We realized that some drastic actions must be taken to stay afloat — we did not panic, we analyzed the situation and did what we thought should be done. It turned out that our approach was right. We knew how to defend our interests and how to stand by our convictions and our rights. We all of us at the plant were like one — and we won! The unity of purpose and shared like-mindedness did get us through the most difficult period. Plus, our friends helped us find solutions to the problems we and the country faced.
Medicinal drugs produced at your plant are imported to about twenty countries of the world — what is it that attracts your customers?
High quality, reasonable prices, transparent partner relationships. Such things are appreciated the world over.
As far as I know, it takes a lot of time and effort to develop a medicinal drug and the distance from conception to realization is a long one. There are so many things that have to be done that it is only a powerful producer that can get its drugs on the market. Is that a correct view of the problem?
Yes, it is. It does take a lot of time and money to develop a new pharmaceutical product. But we have been quite successful in doing that. As you see it is not only international companies that are able to do it. We, in Ukraine, are quite capable of doing it too. In recent years, we have developed and produced many new drugs. Among them [the names are those that have been given to the drugs by the producer] — Korvitin, a cardiological preparation; Altabor — anti-virus preparation; Altan — preparation for treating ulcer; Kratal — cardioprotector; Trivalumen — for dealing with insomnia. I’ve just named at random several among our most successful pharmaceutical products which are in great demand both in Ukraine and in the countries to which these products are exported. They are what we are proud of. About fifty percent of our revenues come from the drugs we develop and produce. At present we are developing over 25 new preparations in seven pharmaceutical groups. We have earned quite a few awards for our products.
The pharmaceutical business in Ukraine seems to have been least affected by the crisis that hit the world and Ukraine two years ago. The foreign-made drugs in Ukraine have gone up in price, and very considerably. Some medicines stopped being imported altogether. This situation has allowed the Ukrainian medicine producers to expand their markets. Has it benefited your plant too?
Yes, it has. We’ve managed to show the public that Ukrainian-made medicines are not at all inferior to the ones made aboard. Not only Ukrainian-made medicines are much cheaper than their foreign analogues, but in some cases they are better! However, the crisis has done some damage to the pharmaceutical businesses too. One of the problems is getting loans from banks. Investments are not enough to develop our pharmaceutical branch of the economy properly — we need loans, and badly.
Is it a secret what you use your revenues for?
No, it is not a secret at all. The lion’s share of our revenues is used for reconstruction and development of production, for purchasing new equipment and raw materials, for the development of new pharmaceutical preparations, for paying the dividends — we are a joint-stock business, for keeping the social standards of our workers high, for the support of those who are already retired. A considerable part of our revenues is used for charity — we help orphanages, families with many children, war veterans and others who need help. We are not after profits for profits sake. We embrace Christian morality.
May we turn from work to leisure? What do you do to relax, to rest? Your work is so hard and it must be taking so much of your time.
It does but — you may find it hard to believe but my best diversion is my work. When I go somewhere for vacations, I feel more tired than at work. I do not regard any problem that we face as the end of the world, I take things philosophically. I do work a lot and my work is highly intensive but it does not affect me in any negative way — I do not suffer from stresses. As far as I am concerned those managers and directors who, as we say “burn at work like blue flames,” or “burn the candle at both ends,” and who collapse from overwork, just do not know how to organize their work properly and in such a way so that they can use the intellectual and logistics potential of the people they work with to the full.
Did you travel outside Ukraine as a tourist?
I did. I’ve been to Norway, Italy, Ceylon — but no matter how good the trip was, how paradisiacal the places I visited were, I longed to get back home — and back to work!
You seem to be a wise and experienced person who knows what to do with her life, how to organize it, and how to be happy in it. Would you have any advice for those who are still seeking their way to happiness?
What a question! Thank you for your high opinion of me — but I don’t think I can provide any comprehensive advice. There are many opinions, many views and many theories that explain what is happiness and to how to become and be happy. I do not think there is one universal formula — happiness is something very individual, for each of us it may be something different.
From my life experience I can say that you have to learn how to find joy in what you do and in what you are and in what fate has given you. There is always something in everyone’s life that can bring joy and happiness. You just have to look hard enough to see and appreciate the gifts of fate or of God. You also have to learn how to curb your desires which tend to grow from small things to things out of all proportion. We should learn how to avoid getting bogged down in trivial things, we should learn how to think in terms other than those of material gain and petty achievements. You have to use your mind properly. I believe that the greatest satisfaction from life you get when your mind is clear and sober, your conscience is clean and you do your work to the best of your ability, and you think in terms not of your personal gain but in terms of benefiting those who are around you.
Lyudmyla Bezpalko has been working
Serhiyko, Mrs Bezpalko’s grandson, accompanied
The newlyweds Lyudmyla and Mykola Bezpalko.[Prev][Contents][Next]