On May 1, 2019, Hikma Pharmaceuticals announced the launching of its one hundredth injectable medicine in the United States, an antibiotic developed to combat the rise of drug-resistant “super bacterias.” It was a huge milestone for the London-based pharmaceutical company, which was founded in Jordan forty years ago and whose global reach now spans more than fifty countries with twenty-nine manufacturing plants, seven research and development centers, and hundreds of generic, injectable, and branded medications. Mohammed Obeidat has been at Hikma since 2004, and in that time company revenue has grown from $200 million to over $2 billion, ten times the annual yield from the Obeidat’s first day.
Obeidat relocated from Jordan to the US in 2013 to become chief financial officer of Hikma’s fastest growing regional business, where he immediately set to work strengthening financial processes and practices that would help accelerate Hikma’s growth in North America. The company is now one of the US’s top generic pharmaceutical companies.
After nearly two decades at Hikma, Obeidat has leveraged his diverse financial background to incite impressive growth in a variety of roles, including his involvement in deals and acquisitions, the launching of new products, financial forecasting, and external audit oversight. “I believe my diverse early-career experiences working within a range of Jordan-based companies and then in different parts of Hikma built an important foundation for me,” Obeidat says. “There was a significant amount of global interaction in my roles that would be important later when assuming my new role in the US.”
Obeidat joined Hikma in Jordan just in time to help the company go public only a year after his hiring in 2004. Since then, the company has grown exponentially, demonstrating a willingness to acquire businesses across its key markets in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. After relocating to the company’s US headquarters in New Jersey, Obeidat was tasked with aiding expansion. “Before I joined, US sales were around $500 million and the plan was to expand through acquisition and development deals,” Obeidat says. That plan meant that Hikma would have to relocate not only himself, but his wife and their three young children. It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly.
“I lived most of my life in Jordan,” Obeidat says. “When it came to the decision, we tried to think more logically and less emotionally.” The Group VP of Finance says that the benefit for his children proved favorable: learning English in school, meeting neighbors and new friends, and interacting with an entirely different culture. After only a few short weeks in the US, Obeidat says his family adjusted as if they had been living there for years. “We’ve all been very happy here,” he remarks.
“I didn’t want the team to feel any difference in status among us.”
With his family content, Obeidat rolled up his sleeves and got to work getting to know his new department. “I tried to gain my team’s acceptance quickly,” Obeidat says. “I think I was able to do that because my leadership style is demonstrated in working shoulder-to-shoulder with the team on a daily basis. I didn’t want them to feel any difference in status among us.”
Obeidat says he made an effort to lead by example by being the first one there if work was required on the weekends and always the last to leave. “I worked hard to mentor my team so they can go and help other departments within the company,” Obeidat says. “The finance area is one of the most wide-reaching departments in every part of the organization, and because we’re knowledgeable about what’s going on in these departments, we’re really able to help effectively drive change.”
For the detail-oriented finance team, navigating change is a serious mandate. But Obeidat says his penchant for thinking through tough problems has helped the finance team tackle issues by addressing root causes. “I think we had several challenges to address, especially with the integration of several large US acquisitions, but we worked together and delivered results,” Obeidat says.
Looking ahead, Obeidat says that the company’s continued growth in the US alone is a positive indicator of what’s to come. “The US is our largest market, and we now have 2,000 employees, two state-of-the-art manufacturing centers, and two research and development facilities serving the needs of hospitals, doctors, and millions of patients across the country,” Obeidat says. “I’m proud to be part of a company that provides quality medicines at affordable prices to the patients who need them—this is the most rewarding impact I can imagine.”
Mohammed Obeidat: Life-long Learner
Never one to be content in his own knowledge, Mohammed Obeidat has now undertaken an Executive MBA program at NYU. “It’s something I was thinking about for a long time but never felt like I had the time to pursue,” Obeidat says. “I believe lifelong learning is the path to success and fulfillment.” The CFO says he’s intent on learning more about global business development, Artificial Intelligence, and business transformation. “I’m especially interested in learning about more strongly linking finance to technology and I’m looking forward to applying what I’ve learned to help Hikma achieve its promise of creating medicines that provide better health for people around the world.”
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