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Cover Story
As Shatter-Proof as Ever!
Women have broken a lot of Gender Barriers in Society, But The Glass ceiling is not Exactly in that List Yet
Issue Date - 17/03/2011
Since then, there has been no looking back for Biocon or Shaw. The years that followed saw the company crossing many a milestones, more so in terms of expansion. From announcing the launch of INSUGEN (a new generation bio-insulin) to supplying insulin API to Asia, Africa and the Middle East, it all has provided muscles to the company to carve a niche for itself in the global market. In order to fulfil her global aspirations, Shaw neither hesitated to join hands with global players like Bayer HealthCare (for marketing and trademark rights for INSUGEN in the Chinese market), nor did she pause before selling off the company’s enzyme to Danish company Novozyme. Sensing an opportunity, she also showed her interest in inorganic growth means by acquiring a 78% stake in German pharmaceutical company, AxiCorp GmbH for a consideration of €30 million. Owing to her constant focus and aggressive strategies, in 2010 Biocon’s net income increased 44% to Rs.24 billion, surpassing the half billion dollar mark (revenue) for the first time. In the mean time, the bottomline surged a mind-boggling over 215% to Rs.3 billion and the company is now rated among Top 20 Indian companies in Forbes “Best Under a Billion” list along with Kiran Mazumder Shaw featuring on the Forbes list of “The world’s 100 Most powerful Women”. And this has made her believe, “The glass ceiling is a perception and women with talent, determination and conviction can keep on chipping away at it till it is smashed.”

“Future is in Unmet Medical Needs”

B&E: You recently tied up with Pfizer for worldwide commercialisation of your insulin products. How does it fit the bill for Biocon?
The $350-million forward-looking strategic agreement for the worldwide commercialisation of Biocon’s biosimilar insulin and insulin analog products validates our business model even as it will help unlock our value. It also highlights the hot-button biotechnology topics of 2011 – biosimilars, synergetic partnerships and emerging markets. Going forward, we will embark on registration and marketing efforts in select emerging markets even as we concentrate on our Malaysia expansion efforts. Our proposed biomanufacturing and R&D facility in Malaysia gives us an international location with strategic geographical proximity to India and we will work to take advantage of the opportunity.

B&E: Your global focus has been very strong over the past few years. How are you planning to make your presence felt across India?
The future promises numerous opportunities in the form of unmet medical needs. Biocon plans to focus on these so that innovative healthcare is affordable and can reach the poorest of the poor. We also plan to enhance our manufacturing and marketing capabilities through joint ventures and tie-ups. Biocon is already a global biotechnology enterprise and my dream is to see both India and Biocon being ranked first in the biotech sector.

B&E: A woman CEO always has braver tales to narrate. Can you please share a few of those incidents where you felt immensely challenged?
As an entrepreneur, the early years were fraught with funding challenges. I was a 25-year-old start up entrepreneur, a woman at that, with no business experience, no collateral security to offer and worse still, a high risk, unknown business based on biotechnology! It took me 3 months to obtain half a million credit line in 1979, which saw me knock on the doors of five banks. 10 years later, despite building a successful track record of being able to run a profitable biotechnology business, I was back to square one when I tried to raise a loan of Rs.1oo million to scale up our intently researched, home grown enzyme technology. It was a chance breakfast meeting with Narayanan Vaghul, CMD, ICICI, that enabled me to finally raise the necessary finance as Venture funding. I can tell you that it was this that made the critical difference to the way I shaped the company.

By : Anindita chakraborty

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