Anshul, a principal at ZS in San Francisco, has been on the move for more than 12 years—both figuratively in terms of his career and focus, and literally in regards to his location.
After earning a degree in electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology and working for a year as a software engineer, Anshul decided to make an early career change. In 2005, he was one of the original 17 ZSers at the newly opened Pune office. He spent the next two years becoming immersed in sales operations and in 2007, he was one of the first ZSers to transfer from India to the U.S.
When Anshul arrived in the Princeton office and his focus shifted from operations to consulting, his project mix shifted to sales force strategy and sales force design, peppered occasionally with work in marketing or analytics.
Keen on finding a narrower focus, Anshul honed in on the oncology and specialty therapeutics industry in 2011.
“It sits in its own little corner of the pharma world and that’s what attracted me to it,” Anshul said. “It’s an ever-changing area that faces its own unique challenges. I love to be challenged.”
Today, Anshul works closely with a Bay Area-based biopharma client—a partnership that led him to relocate to the San Francisco office in 2014. At any given moment, he’s working with five to six other emerging oncology and specialty therapeutics clients on both the East and West coasts.
Anshul says he stays sharp thanks to his clients but outside business hours, it is his highly inquisitive four-year-old son who keeps him on his toes. (Pictured below are Anshul and his son on a trip to Australia last year.)
As a result of his hard work and sharpness, Anshul was elected principal in September.
What’s your favorite part of your work?
I love my work because it’s always different. A few weeks ago I was writing my first white paper. The next week I was preparing to facilitate a large workshop with a new client. The week after that, I was doing my first Integrated Delivery Network project. I like that at ZS, though I’m continually developing my expertise, the actual projects and teams I work on are broad and always changing.
Share a time when the unique ZS culture, or “ZSness,” came out in your work.
About four years ago, a principal and I were managing a new project with a biopharma client. After urging the client to kick off our alignment work for some time, they suddenly informed us of an important timeline and asked us to do an entire territory realignment and rollout in eight business days. My first reaction was to push back and tell them it was unrealistic, but that’s I felt my when ZSness kick in.
We worked with the client to simplify and prioritize the business rules, pulled a team together within two days, realigned the territory in another two days, flew an associate consultant in from India over the weekend and started the rollout less than a week after that first meeting. A typical territory realignment like that one would normally take at least six weeks, but we came together to finish it by the deadline. Today, the client is still one of our most loyal ones and I think this early interaction helped to build that trust.
What’s the most game-changing feedback you’ve ever received?
At a point in my career when I was seizing every opportunity that came my way, a principal in Singapore told me that even though the chance to work on many kinds of projects can be exciting, I should choose one or two that I really liked and focus my energy there. I now carefully consider every new opportunity I’m presented with. Finding focus has allowed me to hone my expertise and stay motivated long term.
What’s the best idea you’ve ever had?
Once I found my focus with the help of the principal of the oncology and specialty therapeutics vertical, I quickly realized it was the best idea I’ve had yet. I’ve been able to do all kinds of work within this area—from consulting to operations and technology—which has been both satisfying and enjoyable. I’ve also grown my ZS network. Instead of working on one team, I’ve gotten to work with as many as 15 at one time!
Give your 25-year-old self one piece of advice.
Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s human instinct to revert back to your comfort zone but, looking back, it’s the challenges I faced head on that I’ve learned the most from.
Who has been the most influential person in your career and why?
ZS’s apprenticeship model is unparalleled. At least 15 principals have invested time and energy into my development, and each has influenced me in a different way. I’ve taken a little piece of each of them to build my own personal leadership style.
What’s your life like outside ZS?
My wife, son and I don’t like to sit at home. We spend our free time exploring, hiking, going to the park and meeting friends. My wife and I have taken up an interest in trying new restaurants and wineries since moving to Northern California.
My son is at a fun age where he’s starting to use his logic. He asks probing questions, listens with interest and always has a follow-up, which has resulted in some really entertaining dialogue. Of course my wife and I will encourage him to find his own path, but it seems he may already be displaying some early signs of “ZSness!”
Ready to find your ZSness? Explore career opportunities at ZS.