Featuring: Ali Baig, PharmD Candidate c/o 2023
By: Helen Li, PharmD Candidate c/o 2023
Ali Baig is a sixth-year pharmacy student at St. John’s University. During his time at St. John’s, Ali cultivated skillsets in business management, starting with his own car detailing business and eventually opening his own franchise of Edible Arrangements. Ali’s interests in business and pharmacy practice led to the foundation of RunnersRx. This organization began as a way for community members to improve their health and wellness. As the organization continues to develop, Ali hopes to use this platform as a means of empowering its members and connecting healthcare workers from a variety of professional backgrounds.
Why did you choose to go to pharmacy school?
As a young kid, I’ve always been interested in business and found pharmacy to be the perfect middle ground between business and healthcare. I have a lot of family in the medical field and chose pharmacy school to make a difference in the health & wellness of society.
Describe your first business involvement.
When I was younger, I’ve always had a passion for business and automobiles. At the time…my family was experiencing some financial trouble. I wanted to figure out a way to support them. I saved birthday money to purchase equipment and products…and I started my car detailing business. That summer, I had taught myself all the fundamentals of starting a business. Starting from the ground up required me to build a new customer base. I gained experience by detailing the cars that belonged to my friends and family members. This business helped me learn the importance of developing efficient communication skills. Towards my senior year of high school, it became a full-time commitment.
Elaborate on your involvement with a franchise of Edible Arrangements.
My Edible Arrangements journey began during COVID and I faced many hardships when I first started. I had to learn how to manage finance, marketing, and the overall operations of the store. My biggest challenge was learning how to manage business alongside school. Within the first eight months at Edible, we were able to increase sales by 20%. We ended the year as one of the top ten stores in the nation and as one of the top three stores in New York State. From a business/volume perspective, we reached tremendous numbers. This experience taught me that anything is possible. You just have to be willing to sacrifice certain things along the way if you want to achieve your goals.
What advice would you offer to underclassmen interested in starting their own business career?
I think customer service and patient satisfaction are very similar. In the pharmacy retail setting, your patient is your customer. I think that the biggest thing you have to do when it comes to customer satisfaction is to separate your business from your emotions. One thing that I have learned from managing employees is that you have to be flexible and willing to cater to their needs. Going above and beyond for your employees is what sets a good boss apart from a great boss. I would tell underclassmen to find something they are passionate about and not to be afraid to pursue it.
Describe the foundation of RunnersRx.
RunnersRx started back in September of 2019. My good friend Ibrahim Hegazy and I went on a run in Long Island City and eventually started posting videos about health and fitness. The niche for us is that we want to work on the overall health and wellness for society. We want to advocate for pharmacists and show the various roles that pharmacists hold in society. Over time, I have learned that I want RunnersRx to bridge the gap between business, healthcare, and society. We have a variety of team members within RunnersRx from all different professional backgrounds. We look forward to seeing how we can grow in the future.
Summarize the general mission of RunnersRx.
The mission of RunnersRx is to empower its members. RunnersRx is made of pharmacists who run the world…I believe we are the most versatile healthcare professionals in society.
What are some previous events that you’ve had for RunnersRx? What are some future events?
A previous event that we had back in July of this year was called the “Health and Wealth Expo”. It was held in collaboration with the South East Queens Chamber of Commerce. Our goal for this event was to push the mission of RunnersRx. We had many tables set up and each group was responsible for a specific disease state. We came up with educational flyers and educated the community about their health. We plan on having more events like this in the future. A few weeks ago, we were able to raise funds for Pakistan due to the severe floods that the country is facing. We are excited to partner up with the New York City Society of Health-System Pharmacists (NYCSHP) to bring awareness to the Dr. Lorna Breen Heroes Foundation. Their mission is to reduce burnout of health care professionals and safeguard their well-being and job satisfaction.
Elaborate on your rotational experiences and its influence on your career.
I think my rotational experiences have shown me a lot about what I like in pharmacy. I chose all different kinds of rotations because I wanted to broaden my perspective and see what was available out there. I think being exposed to all these different environments helped me formulate my opinion about what I want RunnersRx to be. I’ve always wanted to help people and make a difference on a macro level. When I was on my ambulatory care rotation, I would talk to patients one-on-one and I really loved that. When I was in the hospital, we would go on rounds and see patients and I really loved that aspect too. My experiences in these areas have helped me create a clearer vision for my future as well as for RunnersRx and how my role can potentially influence other people down the line.
What are your post-graduation goals?
I definitely see myself working on RunnersRx. I don’t know if it’s going to be a full-time thing, but as of right now, I love it. RunnersRx is one of my hobbies; it fuels my passion and gives me purpose to wake up in the morning. As far as post-graduate plans, I definitely want to get involved in the pharmaceutical industry setting, whether that’s working for a pharmaceutical company or doing my own thing down the line.
Do you have any advice to offer to younger students?
Surround yourself with the right people who will help you accomplish your goals. I am extremely fortunate to be surrounded by such amazing people in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today without these individuals.