Forbes INDIA Leadership Awards 2020-21
Forbes India|March 12, 2021
In a year when business leaders were forced to overhaul their strategies from growth to survival mode, the Forbes India Leadership Awards honour those who successfully navigated the pandemic by innovating and leading from the front
SALIL PANCHAL

Building Corporate Immunity

The Forbes India Leadership Awards (FILA), now in the 10th year, are an acknowledgement of corporate excellence, visionary leadership and innovation. The Covid-19 pandemic hurt the world possibly like never before: A massive loss of human life, lockdown in industrial activity, huge government debts for most countries and a range of bankruptcies and subsequent job losses—in the retail, telecom, aviation and hospitality space.

The pressure to stay afloat became more acute for Indian companies, particularly as they were in the midst of a slowdown pre-pandemic. India’s pace of growth is likely to contract by 7.5 to 8 percent for the full fiscal.

Business leaders were forced to rethink and overhaul their strategies from growth to survival mode. It thus meant deploying finance, technology and human resources most effectively.

Our distinguished jury used these themes to identify companies and business leaders worthy of corporate honors. We introduced three new awards this year: Covid-19 innovators and two philanthropy awards—a reflection of the need to recognise those supporting social causes.

Achieving corporate excellence, turning around business fortunes or scaling up startups was rare. Besides the quantitative data, which includes operating performance and efficiency measures, we looked at leadership skills and the quality of corporate governance to determine candidates.

Cyrus Poonawalla wins the Lifetime Achievement Award for successfully rolling out the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for global and domestic use, and for revolutionizing India’s biotech landscape since the mid-1960s. Byju Raveendran is an Entrepreneur For the Year for pioneering the tech sector in India and scaling up the business during the pandemic. Prashant Warier, who co-founded health tech startup Qure.ai, won the Covid-19 Innovator Award for reinventing the firm’s QXR technology to help fight the virus.

Wipro founder Azim Premji, former banker Amit Chandra and his wife Archana won awards in the philanthropy space. Infosys’s CEO Salil Parekh won the Best CEOprivate sector and Cadila Healthcare’s Sharvil Patel bagged the award in the GenNext Entrepreneur category.

Indian companies have rushed to raise capital last year to strengthen their balance sheets in a still-uncertain global business environment, even as the system is flush with liquidity. With the resurgence of Covid-19, FY22 could well discover corporate leaders who have successfully turned around their businesses, post-pandemic.

METHODOLOGY

The process started almost three months ago with extensive research on qualitative and quantitative parameters. The long list of names in each category was whittled down by January-end and narrowed down to a strong set of six to 11 nominations per category. In early February, the high-powered jury headed by Harsh Mariwala, founder and chairman of Marico, debated the nominations to decide the winners. The other jury members were Ashu Suyash, Gautam Kumra, Saurabh Mukherjea, Puneet Bhatia, and Sandeep Naik. Venture Intelligence, which tracks private company financials, private equity transactions, and mergers, helped with financial data of listed and unlisted firms.

Voices That Mattered

The jury for the 2020-21 Forbes India Leadership Awards comprised successful entrepreneurs and some of the biggest names in the business

Harsh Mariwala

Founder and chairman, Marico (Jury chair)

Harsh Mariwala, who has built a ₹7,300 crores FMCG giant Marico—led by flagship brands Saffola and Parachute—after starting out with commoditized products such as edible and coconuts oils, now scouts for young Indian entrepreneurs and facilitates the startup ecosystem through the not-for-profit Ascent Foundation. Mariwala’s experience of building large businesses while maintaining strong corporate governance standards and identifying talent, which can do the same in a challenging corporate environment, was invaluable to our exercise.

Ashu Suyash

Managing director and CEO, Crisil

A financial services veteran, Ashu Suyash has been instrumental in transforming Crisil into a global analytics and data powerhouse from a single-revenue channel business. In a tumultuous year, Crisil’s businesses were resilient, serving all its clientele. Last year, Crisil acquired Greenwich Associates, a Connecticut-based provider of benchmarking data, analytics, and qualitative insights to financial services firms worldwide. A former banker, Suyash brought with her the knowledge of turning around corporations, their need for accountability towards stakeholders, and an understanding of India’s deepest social concerns.

Saurabh Mukherjea

Founder, Marcellus Investment Managers

An investment and wealth management expert, Saurabh Mukherjea’s Marcellus Investment Managers is one of the fastest-growing portfolio management services in the country with assets under management (AUM) in excess of ₹4,100 crores. Its investment philosophy revolves around companies with clean accounting practices, superior capital allocation, and strong sustainable competitive advantages built around brands, business processes, and strategic assets. Mukherjea is the author of four bestselling books. He brought with him his expertise in interpreting financial data and new-age business vision.

Gautam Kumra

Senior partner and managing director, McKinsey India

Heading McKinsey’s India operations, Gautam Kumra is a McKinsey veteran of over 27 years and has founded the McKinsey Leadership Institute in India, which focuses on developing leaders who can deliver transformational change. Kumra has also served on McKinsey’s Shareholder’s Council, its highest decision-making body, which sets strategic direction and policies. Kumra has expressed confidence in India’s digital growth and health care space. His vital knowledge of global corporate practices and leadership developments in institutes made him a vital part of the jury.

Sandeep Naik

Managing director and head of India & Southeast Asia, General Atlantic

Naik is the new entrant to the FILA jury and brings with him the expertise of private equity investments in the areas of financial and business services, health care, technology, retail, and consumer sector. Naik was previously a director of Apollo Hospitals, which was the first health care services firm to see ₹725 crore-plus investment from private equity players into its holding firm. Last year, Naik led General Atlantic's6,307 crore investment in Reliance Jio, the firm’s largest investment in India to date, as well as a ₹3,625 crore investment in Reliance Retail.

Puneet Bhatia

Co-managing partner and country head, India, TPG Capital Asia

Puneet Bhatia brings with him the expertise of understanding the private equity investor’s role, turning around debt-ridden businesses, and strategic restructuring of businesses. Over 18 years, Bhatia and his team have built TPG into a robust operation, with a focus on health care, consumer, financial services, and technology for investments. Prior to this, Bhatia was CEO (private equity group), GE India. During the pandemic, the parent TPG invested over ₹4,500 crores in Reliance’s Jio Platform and an additional ₹1,837 crore into Reliance Retail.

Byju vs Byju

The maths teacher turned edtech entrepreneur has always known how to reach a wider base of students. As Byju Raveendran looks from scaling in India to global markets, his only competition is with himself

By Monica Bathija

About three-and-a-half years ago, after a knee operation, Byju Raveendran dropped in to meet GV Ravishankar, managing director of Sequoia India, an early investor in Byju’s. Ravishankar recalls that Raveendran had told him about the fall he had had playing football and the subsequent surgery, “but the thing is for him everything is a challenge that needs to be surmounted. So he thought, ‘how do I get back into action as fast as I can?’.” Raveendran, it would seem, pushed himself to a faster recovery. A few weeks later, Ravishankar received a picture from Raveendran–of him running a 21-km half marathon with a message that said, ‘Everything is a challenge, I thought this was a challenge’. “That’s the nature of the person, you know, setting high bars and trying to achieve and overachieve and pushing himself to be the very best,” says Ravishankar.

One doesn’t need to guess how Raveendran has reacted to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the world came to a standstill, the 39-year-old founder of Byju’s moved swiftly, making the most of the inflection point in the edtech sector, raising funds, and making acquisitions in a strategic bid to cover all bases, from curricular to extra-curricular learning, from online to blended models, and asynchronous and synchronous learning.

In August 2020, the tech major acquired online coding school WhiteHat Jr for $300 million. After six rounds of funding in 2020, securing $1.32 billion and a decacorn status, in January, the company reportedly signed a deal to acquire brick-and-mortar test prep leader Aakash Educational Services for $1 billion, one of the biggest edtech acquisitions in the world.

In early February, Byju’s signed a ₹130 crore deal to become a global partner with International Cricket Council (ICC). And in mid-February, according to reports, it was set to acquire rival Toppr in a $150 million deal and Mumbai-based ed-tech firm Scholar for about ₹18 crores.

“Our biggest challenge was how do we create awareness for online learning,” says Raveendran, who set up Think & Learn in 2011 and launched Byju’s The Learning App in 2015. “For online learning to really work, you also need to create formats that are appealing to students to learn on their own. In a country obsessed with spoon-feeding, that’s where we have put most of our effort, time, money in the last five years.”

The time and effort paid off. In the initial days of the lockdown, when schools were shut and students started looking for and trying out courses online, Byju’s took a call to make all its content free. “Just to call out the numbers, the first four-and-a-half years we got 45 million users on our free platforms. In the last 10 months, we added 35 million on top of that.” It was a challenging time, but “with every challenge you also get an opportunity”, he says.

BYJU RAVEENDRAN

Founder and CEO, Byju’s

INTERESTS OUTSIDE WORK: Sports, sports, sports, nothing else. “I don’t watch movies. I do watch most of the sports events. I play almost all the games, and football, cricket, and table tennis I have played lot more than other games.”

WHY HE WON THIS AWARD: For pioneering the edtech sector in India, addressing the need of the market, steadily growing and scaling not just in India but also in global markets

AHEAD OF THE GAME

In the course of the 18 years that Raveendran has been in the teaching arena, he has constantly pivoted, catching trends, and quickly changing and adopting newer methods and business models to get to a bigger, wider user base. To accommodate teaching students preparing for CAT, he first took classes in auditoriums and then stadiums, scaling it further to beam the videos to various cities.

The offline to online pivot came with the launch of the app—to a large extent pioneering the use of technology in education—and while the principle of explaining concepts remained unchanged, it was also a pivot to creating content for K-12 students, changing the go-to market.

What counts is not just changing, but also scaling fast. “You make mistakes, then you learn from them and improve, and when you see that the next one is working, scale fast. You can’t take 12 months of ideation, you need to think of it in the shortest possible time and launch and figure out what is working, what the users want,” he says on a Zoom call.

The company today has 5.5 million annual paid subscribers and trebled its revenues from ₹500 crore in FY18 to ₹1,400 crores in FY19 and further to ₹2,800 crores in FY20. To put that in perspective, rival Unacademy’s total income grew from ₹22 crore in FY19 to a little over ₹86 crore during FY20.

The growth path has also expanded to different offerings and other markets. In early 2019, it acquired US-based educational games startup Osmo for $120 million. Later in the year, Byju’s tied up with Disney to launch an app for early learners and then acquired WhiteHat Jr in August 2020. With Osmo, Byju’s not only got an intellectual property in the form of its computer vision platform but also a starting point in the US. “We have been able to scale their business from $25 million at the time of acquisition to… we will close the year at $110 million this year, so in two years we have scaled that 4.5x,” says Raveendran.

While WhiteHat Jr adds “a teacher layer” or live learning to their asynchronous product-based learning, the Disney tie-up helps the company convey math concepts to four-to-eight-year-olds, or what he calls, “finding the right amount of chocolate before taking children to the broccoli”. “Because a lot of times, those young kids don’t even realize they are learning, right? They are engaged and they end up learning,” he says.

When it comes to engagement, Raveendran would know a thing or two. In the middle of the conversation on the Zoom call, he asks for a 10-second clip of him teaching in a stadium to be played. The Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in Delhi, 25,000 students in the stands, Raveendran on a hexagonal stage with six screens below projecting his lecture. “If you don’t do it right even for five minutes there will be booing in the crowd. You need to make sure they are engaged and there is not even a 30-second lapse, so you have to literally elevate a maths session to a maths concert,” he says.

For the post-pandemic world, the concert analogy fits in with the Aakash acquisition, a way to offer a blended model of offline and online teaching. “The reason when we moved from offline to online, we also moved from test prep to school learning, is that for test prep, these high-stake exams, people will still want to go to an offline location.”

In a blended approach, students will learn at home and need to come to a location perhaps once a week, so that they get the rigour of test prep in a group as well as access to Byju’s’ “rock star teachers” through online, which they might not get in a solely physical format.

Essentially, if it’s been a year of massive fundraising, it has also been a period of aggressive spending. Ravishankar seems unperturbed. “It may appear like Byju’s is acquiring many companies but we know these moves are important for the long term where you are trying to finally solve for the child. We think it should not be only one model, it should be a combination of many models,” says Ravishankar.

As also many markets. Take the ₹130-crore ICC deal. Cricket has been a favourite marketing tool (Byju’s had earlier clinched a jersey sponsorship deal for the Indian cricket team) and for Raveendran, the three-year agreement that will see Byju’s partner all ICC events over the period—including the forthcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in India, and the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand—falls in line with his scale-up plans. “We signed the deal because our scale-up plans are in English-speaking markets and English-speaking markets are all Commonwealth countries as well as cricket-playing nations. So it was an easy decision for us to create brand awareness in those new markets.” He maintains that their core model is profitable in India and “in one to two years we will turn profitable even in new markets”. And though they haven’t “thought about it seriously”, Byju’s is also looking at an IPO in the next 24 months.

Since they first invested in the company in 2016, Dev Khare, partner, Lightspeed India, has known Raveendran as someone into sports and very competitive. And he has stayed true to himself. What’s changed, he adds, is that his ambition has unfolded since then. “What we find really great about him and what we find in the best entrepreneurs out there in India, the US, China, wherever, is that they are always looking for the next big markets for their business, not just focusing on what they are doing right now.”

GAME SET MATCH

Raveendran’s love of sports is well known and there are many analogies, lessons, and inspirations for business and team management that he draws on—from looking at the football field to build and manage teams to learning controlled aggression from table tennis. “All football teams have their own playing style, especially the clubs with tradition. Now suddenly if you revamp the entire team, buy 11 players just because you have a lot of money, you lose the culture, you lose the playing style which defined it. Can you buy 11 players and create the best football team? The answer is no. For every team there is a playing style, so the first four-five players who define the company culture are very important, that’s why the people who get you from 0 to 1 are important.”

That said, he’s always looking to add more entrepreneurial spirit to the company. While there is integration, the companies Byju’s has acquired are run as separate units, with most of the founders staying on to help build and grow. It’s also why when asked about the WhiteHat Jr controversy last year, which was criticized for its advertisements, Byju uses the word ‘them’. “The fact is they made marketing mistakes during the early months, and even before the acquisition, before we came on board, they corrected them,” Raveendran says, adding, “I am using the word they because you would have already understood that even within Byju’s we have kept enough independence for all these companies. If you bring all these together you will actually slow them down, right? Because all of them are at different stages of the company’s growth.”

Slowing down is not an option. Being in for the long haul is. Most of his heroes are in sports, and expectedly, people who challenge themselves, like Roger Federer. “Like doubles, you can still play well even in the 30s and 40s, but [in singles] playing better than you were in your 20s is unheard of, even in [your] late 30s playing better and with the same passion is like you versus you. This is close to me, close to us,” he says.

It’s what defines his approach to business, to being an entrepreneur– continuously innovating and positively disrupting his own model. Because, “if you are willing to disrupt your own model [rather] than someone else, then you can stay in the game,” he says. “It’s not about winning the game, in business it’s all about staying in the game. If you can be in the game for decades, that’s what differentiates a great company from a good company.” However, he quickly smiles and adds, “I am not saying we are a great company, time will tell whether we are able to do something like that.”

The Vaccine King

He started with building cars at the age of 20, but six decades down the line, Cyrus Poonawalla has built a global powerhouse for enabling accessible immunisation against various diseases, including the coronavirus, one vaccine dose at a time

By MANU BALACHANDRAN

He is undoubtedly the global vaccine king. At last count, over 65 percent of children in the world, spread across some 170 countries, have at least once been given a vaccine made by Cyrus Poonawalla’s 55-year-old company, the Serum Institute of India (SII), currently the world’s largest vaccine maker by a number of doses produced and sold globally. These include polio, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, Hib, BCG, r-hepatitis B, measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines, among others. Pune-based SII manufactures as many as 1.5 billion vaccines annually.

Yet, it was last year, as India and the world began battling the Covid-19 crisis that SII and Poonawalla truly came into their own, particularly in becoming a household name. That’s because, as soon as the Covid-19 crisis began globally, SII struck a partnership with the Oxford University’s Jenner Institute to partner in manufacturing what was then an unproven vaccine against Covid-19. Even as the companies around the world had begun working on vaccines to combat the coronavirus, this was a big gamble, especially since the candidate they were betting on had not demonstrated any efficacy. SII then went on to strike at least three more partnerships with global biotechnology companies to help develop newer types of vaccines.

Today, that gamble has paid off, and SII is now the leading manufacturer of Covid-19 vaccines in India, where the world’s largest Covid-19 vaccination program is underway. The Oxford vaccine was eventually marketed by AstraZeneca and SII struck a deal that reportedly involved an upfront payment in return for manufacturing and selling in India. SII’s vaccines have also been sent to countries around the world as part of India’s vaccine diplomacy programme in addition to countries that have commercial deals with India, including Canada and Brazil. In all, the Indian government has committed to buying nearly 60 million doses of the vaccine from SII.

“One of Serum Institute’s key strategies even today is to work within a model whereby vaccines are produced in high volumes at low prices, giving us a significant edge over competitors while driving sustainable revenue streams for the long run,” Cyrus Poonawalla, the 80-year-old chairman and managing director of SII, and chairman of the Poonawalla Group tells Forbes India. “We seek to build Serum Institute efficiently with negligible debt, with a highly committed and engaged global workforce.”

On February 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca’s vaccine, allowing SII to sell vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries. Today, the company has four partnerships to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, the biggest being the deal with AstraZeneca. Others include Novavax, Codagenix and SpyBiotech, with whom SII is jointly developing or manufacturing vaccines. Novavax’s vaccine, NVX-CoV2373, had recently claimed an 89.2 percent efficacy after phase 3 trials in the UK.

“As one of the leading manufacturers, it was our responsibility to drive the wheels of action and save the world,” Poonawalla says. “The effectiveness of Covishield is one of the greatest modern-technology miracles. Earlier, it would have been impossible to dream of making a viable vaccine in such a short duration. That said, we have a long way to go still, and the Serum Institute of India will continue to stand tall in support alongside the people of the world.”

Today, one dose of Covishield [it’s a two-dose vaccine] is sold at ₹210 by SII to the government, a fraction of what the vaccines manufactured by global pharmaceutical companies Moderna and Pfizer cost. Much of that, Poonawalla reckons, is due to the group’s founding belief on providing affordable vaccines to millions of Indians at a time when India was heavily dependent on imports for much of its vaccine and medical supplies. “From the very inception of the company, we encompassed a philanthropic approach to the pricing of these world-changing, lifesaving vaccines,” Poonawalla says.

“He can rightly be called the father of vaccines,” Mahima Datla, managing director of Hyderabad-based vaccine maker Biological E, says. “Well before biotech became a buzzword, he had the ability to take risks in the sector and people often tend to forget that he spent an entire lifetime trying to transform access to immunization for millions of people around the world. He is certainly unapologetic about his opinions and has been key to building India’s vaccine capabilities.”

FROM HORSE BREEDING AND CARS TO VACCINES

Poonawalla was born into a family that owned stud farms in Pune. His father Soli Poonawalla was a well-known horse breeder and owned the Poonawalla Stud Farms. To date, the Poonawalla Stud Farms has bred 369 Classic winners, including winners of 10 Indian Derbies and 70 Indian Classics. It is the highest stakes-earning establishment in the country with over 755 home-breds earning stakes in excess of1 million.

“I was born into a family that had old ties to India’s horse racing circuit,” Poonawalla says. “Growing up, I had a strong affinity towards creating and building something for the masses.” That’s precisely why, at 20, Poonawalla and his friends got together to experiment with building a car, and even built a prototype sports car modeled on the D-type Jaguar. Back then, India was a fledgling economy, which had only been independent for a little over a decade, with not much to show in industrial prowess. And Poonawalla’s prototype would cost around9,000, a heavenly sum for that period. India’s per capita income back then was around $81, which stands at a little over $2,100 (approximately ₹1.5 lakh) now.

“Producing the prototype on a commercial basis required more money than we had, so we abandoned the idea, realizing that making a product for the masses, rather than India’s elite, would be a smart move,” says Poonawalla, who graduated from the Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce in 1963.

With India’s economy following a government-controlled socialist regime, Poonawalla also realized that his family-owned business of horse racing really didn’t have a future. “For a socialist country like India, at that time horse-racing had limited expansion scope,” he says.

It was then that a chance conversation with a veterinary doctor-led Poonawalla down the path of vaccines. At the time, retired horses from the Poonawalla Stud Farms were donated to the government-owned Haffkine Institute in Mumbai, which made vaccines from horse serum.

“During the 1960s and 1970s, India was facing an acute shortage of life-saving sera and vaccines which were then being imported at very high prices,” Poonawalla says. “Sera and vaccines were, to a very limited extent, manufactured by government-run companies.” Soon, Poonawalla realized that the serum could be used in manufacturing tetanus, anti-toxin, and anti-snake venom serum.

“Thus, on the outskirts of our stud farm, in June 1966, with a meager initial capital equivalent of $12,000 (₹900,000), raised by selling some of our horses and a loan from my father, I established a small-scale serum manufacturing plant recognized as Serum Institute of India,” Poonawalla says.

The initial years, however, weren’t quite easy. The company started as a small-scale laboratory on 12 acres with a team of 20 people. “In the initial phase, we faced numerous challenges, including excessive red tape and bureaucracy in procuring necessary sanctions for construction, water, and electricity, as well as permissions for drug licenses from local, state, and federal authorities,” Poonawalla says. “The lack of private sector participation was due to the fact that vaccine manufacturing is a highly complex and sensitive process. It requires huge investment, highly trained professionals, and continuous compliance with ever-changing regulations.”

Within two years, the company began manufacturing anti-tetanus vaccines before moving on to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccines in 1974, followed by an anti-snake-venom serum in 1981. Back then, India was still heavily dependent on Unicef and imports for vaccines and medicines. “It was our clear strategic endeavor to invest linearly and make the country self-sufficient with life-saving sera and vaccines at affordable prices,” Poonawalla says. “SII allowed me to support a critical social cause in India and meet the demand for vaccines in the country by extracting the serum from horses and producing cheaper vaccines.”

By 1989, the company also began manufacturing the measles vaccine, until then unavailable in India, and in 1990, SII became the largest manufacturer of vaccines in India. “We were significantly ahead of government-run companies,” Poonawalla says. The company had used a relatively lesser-known measles strain acquired from Yugoslavia with a basic template technology, which was worked upon to make what Poonawalla calls a very high quality, efficacious, and cost-effective measles vaccine.

THE TURNING POINT

The 1990s was a defining period for Poonawalla and SII.

“Post 1990, we aimed to go beyond India, where we visualised huge potential to immunise children all over the world,” Poonawalla says. “We focussed on the UN agencies that were procuring high volumes of vaccines.” The company received WHO accreditation for its products in 1993, starting with the measles vaccine, allowing it access to the huge global market.

“Within the next decade, Serum Institute emerged as the largest supplier of vaccines to combat diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and the measles, mumps, and rubella group of vaccines, overtaking ‘big pharma’ in production,” Poonawalla says. So far, Serum Institute has received WHO approval for 22 products, the largest for any manufacturer in the world to date.

By 2001, Cyrus’s son Adar Poonawalla also joined the business. In 2012, SII bought Dutch vaccine maker Bilthoven Biologicals, giving it access to the technology for making injectable polio vaccines, which was then available with just three producers globally. That was followed by the acquisition of the Czech arm of US-based firm Nanotherapeutics for nearly ₹500 crore to help increase the production capacity of polio vaccines to more than 200 million doses by 2020, making SII the world’s largest maker of injectable polio vaccines.

“However, our greatest achievement lies in the fact that we saved the lives of millions of children across 170 countries,” Poonawalla says. “Today, more than two-thirds of the world’s children have received one or more vaccines manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.”

Along the way, Poonawalla also expanded his business into newer areas, including finance, hospitality, real estate and aviation. Poonawalla Aviation is a Pune-based non-scheduled operator providing chartered flight services since 2005 with a fleet of three aircraft. In early February this year, Poonawalla Finance, a company owned by the Poonawalla Group, announced that the company is buying publicly listed Magma Fincorp for ₹3,456 crores. Until now, Poonawalla Finance had largely remained on the fringes, with a loan book of some ₹1,500 crores.

“I see unlimited potential in India in the financial space as our economy is poised to grow in double digits and this ties in with our group philosophy of serving the needs and dreams of the nation, and financial service plays an important role in supporting and fuelling the growth of our country,” Adar, who is CEO of SII, had said at the time of the purchase. The group has also forayed into renewable energy solutions and the hospitality sector.

COVID-19 AND BEYOND

Today, Adar runs much of the day-to-day operations at SII.

“Adar has an undeterred commitment and a strong resolute to transform the health care industry,” Poonawalla says. “His approach to business—with compassion and thoughtfulness—is aligned with the philosophy of the Serum Institute of India. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, I am certain that he will continue to lead and be an inspiration to a generation of young leaders.”

Adar joined the family business in 2001 and was instrumental in expanding it to some 50 countries. Last September, Adar had told Forbes India that he was taking a personal risk by investing in the AstraZeneca vaccine, pumping in $800 million to help find, and then produce the vaccine. Today, the company manufactures nearly 70 million doses a month, which is expected to increase to 100 million by March once its third facility is operational.

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Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

BE SQUIRRELY

Giant squirrels, giant lessons? Animal chaplain SARAH BOWEN explores what squirrels can show us about mindfulness.

4 mins read
Spirituality & Health
Mar/Apr 2021

E8 Caste and the Indian Tech Ivies

IIT grads are highly sought after in Silicon Valley. Are they bringing deep-rooted prejudices with them?

10+ mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
March 15, 2021

Life Changing

I was happily married, happily employed, just plain happy. Until the accident

8 mins read
Guideposts
February 2021

IN SEASON Chickpeas (GARBANZO BEANS)

Chickpeas appear in early recordings in Turkey well over 5000 years ago. India produces the most chickpeas worldwide but they are grown in more than 50 countries. An excellent source of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, B vitamins, and some minerals, they are a nutritious staple of many diets. The name chickpea comes from the Latin word cancer, referring to the plant family of legumes, Fabaceae. It is also known by its popular Spanish-derived name, the garbanzo bean. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, and peanuts are other familiar foods found in this legume family.

1 min read
Alternative Medicine
February 2021

When the Signal Goes Out

Government-ordered internet shutdowns are becoming more frequent

3 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
February 15 - 22, 2021