Meet Mathi Mathivanan, Teva Canada employee for 28 years
As a PhD graduate and a new Canadian looking to find work to support his family in the mid-1990s, Mathi Mathivanan could never have dreamed of the successes that awaited him at Teva Canada (previously Novopharm). Even as a Chemist working at Teva Canada, Mathi never aspired to a role in Senior Management. But, as he says, “You can only prepare for what you think you should do, and be ready when opportunities unfold later on.”
Indeed, opportunities haven’t stopped unfolding for Mathi since he joined the organization in 1995. He was hired following what he considers a “dark phase” in his life: even with a PhD from the University of Victoria and two postdoctoral fellowships under his belt, Mathi had to collect employment insurance for six months while searching for work. He remembers leaving his rented apartment every morning, with a briefcase in hand so that his daughter would not suspect he did not have a job, to spend his days at the library. Eventually, he found himself turning down multiple job offers to accept a position as Chemist II in Novopharm’s Analytical R&D department.
“I wanted to work for a big, stable company,” he explains. He also had a positive association with the company’s founder, Leslie Dan, who had thoughtfully responded—in his own handwriting—to a letter Mathi wrote him earlier in his job search. Mathi’s memories of his early days at Novopharm are fond ones, with Dan taking the time to talk to employees, regardless of rank. “He promoted a culture of caring for people,” Mathi says. “And that’s still the culture of Teva Canada today. Anybody can talk to anybody. There’s no hierarchy.”
From the start, Mathi’s career has been marked by a commitment to continuous improvement and adapting to changes. Though he had no managerial ambitions at the time, he enrolled in management and drug legislation courses at Seneca College, with the company’s support. Promotion followed promotion, and within five years, he was a Supervisor. In 2003, Mathi became a Lab Manager and by 2006, he was promoted to Director of Regulatory Affairs at Teva Canada.
“I was ready,” he says of the major career shift. “Even though I was in the R&D lab, I was monitoring Health Canada’s guidance documents and in a way, I was ready to pursue my career in Regulatory Affairs. I felt slightly uncomfortable at the beginning because I had been brought in from a different department to a senior management position, but it didn’t slow me down.”
Mathi’s adaptability has allowed his career to flourish. Coming from India to Canada on a student visa, moving from one department to another, watching Novopharm become Teva Canada: he has taken all these changes in stride. “I adapted to a new country. I adapted to a new department and new people. With so many changes in the regulatory landscape, you don’t get bored,” he says. In fact, soon after moving into his regulatory role, he began telling his colleagues, “I should have joined the RA team earlier, because this is so much fun and there is so much to learn!”
Two years ago, Mathi received another surprise promotion—this time to Senior Director II, the most senior position in his department. “I was really humbled,” he says. “I have been recognized by people here from day one. And when I feel like I’m getting something I don’t deserve, I go all out to validate their trust in me.”
Mathi is proud of the company that gave him his first job in Canada. “This is where my career has blossomed,” he says. “Everything anyone could ask for, I have received in this organization.” And he’s also deeply proud of Teva’s global role: “We sometimes forget about Teva’s global strength: the number of development sites, the wide spectrum of dosage forms and the number of products we bring to the patients globally every day. We are lucky to be part of a company that focuses on manufacturing safe and effective medicines for millions of patients.