|Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Ceo - Biocon Ltd.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is not the sort of person who would sit back in the cozy comfort of her home and watch her "beautiful, unpolluted" Bangalore deteriorate under her eyes. Her earlier attempts to do so may not have been successful, but that has never diminished her desire to give something back to the city she loves so dearly. She was in the news recently. Her company BIOCON invested a crore of rupees with the Bangalore Agenda Task Force that has been specially constituted to make Bangalore one of the best cities in Asia.
In an exclusive interview with www.koramangala.com, this deep-rooted Banglorean, a highly successful woman entrepreneur and an insatiable art collector, Kiran Mazumdar shares a few thoughts.
Koramangala.com: When we first interviewed you, we recollect how disturbed you were with the deteriorating conditions of Bangalore and Koramangala, as well. You've now made a fairly hefty contribution towards the development program of Bangalore, which was in the news recently. You could have made the same contribution even earlier. What made you do it now? Did the Chief Minister's call evoke this response?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: I have voiced my concern for Bangalore's deterioration for the past 5 years! It stems from the fact that my youthful memories of Bangalore were that of a beautiful, unpolluted, clean city with civic-minded citizens and corporation. Incidentally, I would like to clarify your statement about "making a hefty contribution". Biocon is "investing" and not "contributing" in Bangalore. Although our new CM has made some very positive statements in improving Bangalore, it is more to do with the private initiative taken by BATF under the direction of Nandan Nilekani and K. Jairaj that leads me to believe that corporate participation in this program will see results. It was Nandan Nilekani's appeal that made me agree to Biocon investing in Bangalore.
Koramangala.com: It is our opinion that people like yourself and so many others have shown to the citizens of Bangalore that you care. As one of the earliest residents of Koramangala, will you once again take the initiative to start a "Keep Koramangala Clean" drive?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: I would like to reinitiate the "Keep Koramangala Clean" campaign, but I am tired, disillusioned and feel almost defeated! If I can get at least 10 Koramangalites to join me, I will start the drive again!
Koramangala.com: From what we hear, the "Bangalore Summit" was quite a success. However, we are also aware that it's not going to be easy. But then, with the Chief Minister "cracking the whip" sort of, with the short-term/long-term targets now in black and white, it looks as though the Summit wasn't a large scale PR exercise. At the same time, you and I know how politics has this uncanny knack of creeping in like a bad coin. Do you think the CM will be able to withstand any storm that might come along? Also, do you feel confident that Bangalore will be the best city in Asia by the year 2004-2005?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Best city in Asia is being ridiculously ambitious. Singapore is something we cannot attain the likes of even by the next Millennium! But certainly we can try to outdo Kuala Lumpur by 2004-2005 and be one of the top three cities in Asia.
Koramangala.com: Your company BIOCON is now the beneficiary of VC funding from ICICI Ventures. One normally hears of VC funding for companies in IT and Internet models. How did all this come about?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Biocon has been an extremely successful company for many years now and whilst we have had a number of VCs knocking at our doors for several years, we have only recently attained complete independence from Unilever and were hence able to opt for private equity investment.
Koramangala.com: The mood must be pretty much upbeat at BIOCON. Your company is perhaps one of the first from outside of the IT sector to attract a VC. Do you think that in due course of time more industries will attract VC's? Do you think this augurs well for such a shift to take place?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Biotechnology is certainly a very exciting segment for VF investment. The U.S. is already showing a gradual shift from IT to BT and BT in India is where IT was in India at least 10 years ago. Biocon is a success story that will hopefully induce other players to get into the field.
Koramangala.com: IT companies are changing their format of doing business and one hears more and more of stock options for employees. Someone once said that if the big business houses and family-owned companies had shared their wealth with their employees in the past, the industrial scenario would have been different in the country. But then, it's now an afterthought. As a successful businesswoman from a non-IT sector, do you think that in the near future we can expect a change in the way industries and businesses work?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: We started an ESOP way back in 1996. I truly believe that people drive a Technology driven business and if you don't make them co-owners, such businesses will find it difficult to succeed. Gone are days of treating employees as paid personnel who are expected to generate profits but not expected to share them.
Koramangala.com: You are into a totally different sphere of activity from the IT industry. But then, the Internet has penetrated in almost all areas of business, in as much that so many different models have sprung up. Has the Internet changed things at BIOCON? Have you sort of "embraced" Information Technology in your company?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: We have used IT ever since our start. Today we are totally networked and IT dependent in every sphere of our activity. We are furious with the DOT to disrupt our IT link with an efficient City exchange and convert us into a grossly inadequate rural exchange!
Koramangala.com: And finally, how is your art collection? Any good buys off late?
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: A. Have bought a good work of art from a London-based artist Amal Ghosh who had an exhibition at Sumukha art gallery.