“Being an Entrepreneur”
“An entrepreneur is a dreamer with the ability to imagine new opportunities, and the boldness, dedication and effort to carry them out.”
Hugo Sigman, Endeavor Award, 2013.
Hugo Sigman is an Argentine entrepreneur engaged in the pharmaceutical, agroforestry and cultural industries, known for his entrepreneurial track record and leadership. His business group comprises a wide range of industries, but he is convinced that there is a common thread that links them all: “They are quite similar, as they are based on the same values and principles; in everything we do we are guided by the dignity of work.”
Sigman graduated as medical doctor from Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1969. That same year, he also completed his studies in social psychology at Dr. Pichon Rivière’s school. He did his residency at Hospital Aráoz Alfaro in Buenos Aires Province, where he worked as Chief of Residents and Psychiatry Emergencies.
In 1976, due to the political circumstances of Argentina, he moved to Spain with his wife, Silvia Gold, and their first son. His arrival was not entirely an act of free will: in those times of military dictatorship, psychiatry in Argentina was considered synonymous with insubordination and insurgence.
He settled in Barcelona, where he earned a scholarship at the Clinical Hospital, directed by Dr. Juan Obiols, with the support of the Ibero-American Cooperation Institute. For Sigman, it was a dream come true. Six months after his arrival in Spain, one of the most renowned Catalan psychiatrists had asked him to join his team. “He was an extraordinary man, and a very generous one,” Sigman recalls.
From Psychiatrist to Entrepreneur
In Spain, Sigman started a Master’s Degree at ESADE, which meant a great challenge for someone like him, a medical doctor without any corporate experience. Encouraged by his father-in-law, Roberto Gold, who was a prominent figure in the pharmaceutical industry of Argentina, he got involved in the pharmaceutical industry.
That marked the start of a new and challenging path for the Sigman-Gold couple in the Iberian country: they started to supply Argentine pharmaceutical companies with active pharmaceutical ingredients that were not available in the country. They gained a competitive edge because traditional marketers did not have scientific training. Additionally, Hugo was enthusiastic about going beyond the day-to-day aspects of the business and envisaging the products that would be needed in the market years into the future.
Thus, in 1977 they founded Chemo, a chemical-pharmaceutical company and the first company of what would later on be known as Grupo Insud. Its purpose was to produce high-quality generics at affordable costs.
Chemo’s first office, when Hugo Sigman and Silvia Gold took their first steps as entrepreneurs in the pharmaceutical industry.
In the 1980s, the couple returned to Argentina to continue the path they had started in Europe.
At present, Chemo has a presence in more than 40 countries, with 15 chemical and industrial plants and 9 R&D centers. The company sells a wide range of branded products to more than 1,200 laboratories throughout the world.
Map showing Chemo’s global footprint.