“No one is born to be a leader, so am I,” says Sabrina Khan. She is the Chief Financial Officer at Aptorum Group Limited and is having 10+ years’ experience in US and Asian healthcare companies with proven track records in successful IPO, restructuring, business expansion and M&A projects in Hong Kong, China and US.
Sabrina spent a few years in Big 4 and had the chance to audit multinational and reputable corporations. During her professional journey, she was not only learned technical knowledge but also how successful people and companies worked. She believes, “Everyone has a key role to play in the industry and everyone can make an impact. As an accountant, I may not be able to go to the lab and work like other scientists or develop a drug to save people’s lives. But I used my accounting and financing knowledge to help raising capital and strengthen the company through inorganic approach like M&A and to provide sufficient resources for the science team to continue their work.”
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Sabrina Khan:
Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader. What challenges you had to face to reach where you are today?
Like many accounting graduates, I started my career as an auditor at Big 4 where I learned a lot of technical skills and “best practices” from auditing different clients. After I left, I joined various listed and private companies where I started to lead projects, lead teams, help management to solve problems and make important decisions. Of course, things are not always smooth. I also encountered lots of challenges throughout the journey. But I see every challenge a valuable opportunity for me to learn and grow. Every experience is an important lesson. In the past, as a junior, I always focused on myself; and now, I would put myself in the shoe of the management and the company and consider the interest of all parties and the big picture.
Describe Aptorum Group Limited’s offerings that address the need of your customers.
Aptorum Group is a biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes novel therapeutics to tackle unmet medical needs including orphan, infectious and metabolic diseases. We continue to seek different approaches to identify more therapeutic targets in covering more currently medical unmet diseases and contribute to the advancement in global medical development.
What are the challenges you and your team at Aptorum Group Limited come across in your day-to-day operations?
Managing people is always the most difficult. It’s an art because there’s no straight formula and you cannot easily control how people think and behave. You need different approach to handle different people, especially difficult people. Within the team, I have to understand everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, their personality, job expectation and make sure they are motivated and do their job well. So it’s one of my core duties and challenge to motivate the team in working together to contribute their competencies and experiences to get things done.
Whereas outside the team, like many other companies, there are always staffs who want easy solution and do not want to follow rules. We need to have a cooperative attitude but yet, we are the gatekeeper and have to ensure they follow the rules set by the company. So we need to take a balance. On one hand, we have to make sure everyone and all departments follow the rules but on the other hand, we don’t want to build a hostile relationship with them. It involves lots of education and training and let them understand why they have to follow the policies and how they would also benefit from it.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
My dad influenced me a lot. He’s punctual, committed, and reliable, though sometimes too rigid. But he always teaches me to be a responsible person and this has also become my motto in life that keeps on reminding me not to give up whenever I encounter any challenges.
Taking into consideration, the current pandemic, and its impact on global economies, how are you driving your organization to sustain operations and ensuring safety of your employees at the same time?
The pandemic sweeping the world and there is no sign that it would be resolved any soon. We have to implement different approaches to ensure our R&D progress is on track and operation remains normal. For staffs who need to physically present, we ask them to split teams in order to control the number of people working together. For back office staffs, we encourage them to work from home.
Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives Aptorum Group Limited.
Aptorum Group Limited is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, working to provide medical treatments, extensively in the domain of oncology and infectious diseases. They are one of the leading companies, taking the innovation curve ahead, dedicated to discovering, developing, and finally commercializing the medical treatments for such diseases which are not only infectious but as they are not given proper and adequate attention, can pose a serious threat to the survival of the mankind. They are not only dedicated but their sincerity and work speak a great deal about the company’s vision and goals. They are not only changing the way of treatment in oncology and infectious diseases by providing breakthrough treatments but are leading the competition in the market and strong holding their dominance as one of the best biopharmaceutical companies.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for Aptorum Group Limited?
We will continue to develop the existing projects, yet we will also explore new ways to develop more therapeutic treatments to target the ever-growing numbers of orphan diseases and unmet medical needs. The traditional way of drug development may take years and it’s difficult to deal with the continuous growing number of diseases.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs?
Starting a business is not easy. It’s essential to find the right people of the necessary skills who can also share the same goal and values. We are fortunate to have found the right people, right projects and very important, right timing too. We did waste lots of time and resources searching, testing, making adjustment and re-testing again. The process is tough and lot of people could have given up during the process. But see it as an opportunity to make you do better next time.