[PaGaLGuY.com Christmas & New Year Special] Founder-CEO Biocon, Kiran M Shaw

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Leadership comes from within, says India's richest woman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and the Founder-CEO of Biocon. In an exclusive interview with PaGaLGuY.com, she divulges more about Biocon, the future of biotech industry and women as managers in our sp...
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gud job done
keep it up!

v mba students require these inspiring thoughts.:smile:

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This is what is called from Horse's mouth:
"If you have vision, a plan and conviction anyone can be leader! There is difference between manager and leader!"

Well said.


Thanks for such a good article, it was inspiring!

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Awesome work :thumbsup:

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Good job there Sonam n team! :thumbsup:

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Leadership comes from within, says India's richest woman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and the Founder-CEO of Biocon. In an exclusive interview with PaGaLGuY.com, she divulges more about Biocon, the future of biotech industry and women as managers in our special series on entrepreneurs and women managers.

In the 70's when you got involved with Biotechnology, this sector was hardly known; there wasn't much Government or private sector backing. What made you take the plunge?

I wanted to join medical school and when that did not happen I took up biology instead. This led me to specialize in brewing. When I was not accepted as a brew master in India, I turned to biotechnology in a very accidental manner. I set up Biocon 26 years ago in the garage of my rented house. In fact the garage doubled up as my office. I had to make the most of my available resources and started with Rs. 10, 000 in the bank. Of course my Irish partners were very supportive of what I was doing and I used that garage for the first three years of my operations and then I moved into another rented office in town before I moved into this facility. In those days when we acquired this piece of property on Hosur Road on the outskirts of Bangalore, it was a very remote set up, almost rural with no telephones etc.

When we advertised for personnel, there were few takers. Most of them
interviewed me (as I was a woman) rather than the other way round. Funding was not easy to come by either. No one had heard of biotech and the response of banks and financial institutions was wary and hesitant. I guess I was excited and ready to face any challenges. When I look back at my early days, I feel I was self-assured and determined to make a success of my new venture. My family was a great source of support as were my friends.

Which Biocon invention or pioneer manufacturing process has given you the most satisfaction? In essence, what is it about Biocon that you feel immensely satisfied with?

Biocon is about doing things in a differentiated way daring to be different so that you stand out. Biocon's byline 'The difference lies in our DNA' has enabled us to charter our own business destiny. The three most important factors for the phenomenal growth
of Biocon are that we have an incredibly talented team of people, a wonderfully committed team of people and a powerful ethos to be world class.

Soon after founding Biocon in 1978, we set ourselves ambitions that exceeded local boundaries. We based our vision and growth strategy on innovative research & development. Our overriding goal was to turn knowledge through research into valuable products that could reach out to global markets. Biocon's pipeline of discovery-led research products is both extensive and exciting. Leading this effort is the recent launch of BIOMAb EGFR - India's first cancer drug for head and neck cancers. This product marked Biocon's foray into the oncology market and furthermore, has established us as an innovator company. Other programs that are moving up the development path are oral BNP, BVX 10, BVX20 and Anti-CD6 monoclonal antibodies.

Biocon is a perfect example of a company entering a research driven industry in a developing country like India. Do you think India could be the next science powerhouse of the world? And what role do you foresee for Biocon 10 years from now, with respect to India and the world market?

Biocon is devoted to building cutting edge capabilities, global credibility and of course building global scale in our manufacturing and marketing capabilities. We are on our way to making Biocon a global biotechnology enterprise and my dream is to see both India and Biocon being ranked amongst the top league in the Biotech sector. We are already geared to attain global scale. We have Asia's largest Insulin facility and Statin facilities. We are also the largest perfusion based antibody production facilities in Asia. Our ambition is to be among the top 10Biotech companies globally.

Do you get annoyed when people repeatedly insist on calling you a" woman entrepreneur" and evaluate you with a special emphasis on gender? On the same lines, if and how do you think your entrepreneurial experience has been affected because of your gender?

I have never felt the "burden" of being a woman. I have always felt that being a woman provides us with special attributes: compassion, sensitivity, multi-tasking and above all, the inner strength to excel. Like Tom Peters said, "Brains are in, heavy lifting is out" Knowledge does not have a gender divide - women scientists, women engineers and women writers have enormous opportunities to excel and succeed.

How tough is it to break the glass ceiling? Do you think that women in corporate India face challenges and hurdles that men usually don't? Can one safely assume that in your organization women will not or do not face a glass ceiling?

Indian businesswomen are making their mark in diverse fields from Banking
to Biotechnology. I see Indian women being an increasing tribe of high performers across the globe. Women must use their spirit of enterprise and scale heights achieved by their male counterparts I do believe that women are provided with special attributes such as compassion, sensitivity, multi-tasking and an inner strength of honest and untiring commitment. Today, Indian women have clearly realized that with the right mix of
skill, experience and initiative, being at the helm can be one of the most rewarding experiences.

Infact, I think women have travelled a great distance since my early start up days. Women, today have a lot of support, from the government as well as financial institutions and can excel in the professional arena and there is nothing that stands in the way of the younger breed of Indian women reaching higher pinnacles. At Biocon we do our best to ensure gender sensitivity issues are addressed. Women are encouraged not to come at odd hours in the night and if women have to travel to interior areas of the country a male escort is provided. Biocon has a fully equipped crche that enables employees to have their children cared for while they pursue their careers at the work place. These considerations take care of employee apprehensions. However, I am not the kind of person who will appoint women for the sake of their gender but for the role they play.

There have been numerous debates on the value of an MBA for an entrepreneur and how MBA creates great managers but bad entrepreneurs. Do you think that doing an MBA is essential to be a successful entrepreneur? What is your take on it?

Leadership is from within. Any individual with the right vision, plan and conviction can aspire to become a good leader. There are many attributes to being a successful leader. In my opinion, all leaders need not be visionaries and all visionaries need not be leaders. I believe that more than being a visionary a leader has to inspire people, allowing them to share ideas and aspirations. Vision is an evolving process and not something that has to be rigidly adhered to. In my mind there is a clear-cut difference between a manager and a leader- the sense of ownership. The challenge for any leader is to build a team of professionals that feel the same sense of ownership in every task undertaken.

Personally and professionally, what has been the most defining moment in your life?

Personal best: Being chosen for the Padmashri (1989) and PadmaBhushan (2005) I consider this as recognition of the potential and promise that Biotechnology holds for our country

Professional high, pressing the button at the National Stock Exchange when Biocon was listed in March 2004. Biocon closed Day One of listing on the bourses with a market value of $ 1.1 billion, to become only the second Indian company to cross the $ 1 billion mark on the day of listing

Who has been the major influence in your life? Who is your role model? Among your contemporaries whom do you admire most? And why?

I have drawn inspiration from several people at each stage of my life: My father, My Irish collaborator with whom I started Biocon, Mr. Vaghul Chairman of ICICI who bet on my technology and financed my first large fermentation project, Prof. Mashelkar, D.G. CSIR who endorsed my R&D; focus and made me believe in Intellectual Property, My husband who invested in me in every way, Dr. M.K. Bhan, Secretary, Department
of Biotechnology who is helping to build a strong Biotechnology capability in the country, Dr.Devi Shetty who has inspired me in terms of a new healthcare approach for the masses and of course my team who inspires me every day to build a company that will truly be a torch bearer for Indian Biotechnology.

I am truly inspired by women of courage and conviction in the business world who have broken glass ceilings, gained the respect of the corporate world and made a big difference to their companies by changing the gender mindset that unfortunately still exists in the so called intellectual arena. I would like to especially pay a tribute to Indian women in the corporate world like Indra Nooyi, Naina Lal Kidwai, Shikha Sharma, Swati Piramal, Anu Agha, Mallika Srinivasan, the ICICI trio and many others who are helping to build a new India where women can hold their heads up high.

What would be your suggestion to budding entrepreneurs? What would be the top prerequisites for an entrepreneur?

If you have a vision, a plan and the conviction you should follow it and success will come to you. Biocon is testimony to a vision that a team of like-minded people with the same drive to excel can achieve. A sense of self-confidence, a sense of determination, hardwork and not being demotivated with failure but learning from your mistakes. A sense of overall perseverance is very essential.

Personally, you are also an activist for various causes? What drives you to take these causes?

I sincerely believe that it is important to give back to society - the very society that has allowed us to attain the heights we have. At Biocon, our efforts extend beyond the realm of biotechnology through our community-support initiatives and corporate citizenship programmes. We recognise our responsibility to India - her health, education and environment. Our particular focus is on child welfare as we realise the importance of investing in children, to positively impact their future. Biocon Foundation has been established with the aim of identifying and implementing projects that will impact the social and economic scenario in the country. The main focus areas of the Biocon Foundation are providing quality healthcare and health education for the betterment of Indian society.

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