HELLO!: Congratulations on your award! How do you feel about winning ‘Businesswoman of the Year’?
Mahima Datla: “It’s really a privilege to receive this recognition! To be acknowledged for something you love doing is very special. Moments like these define one’s journey, and I feel grateful.”
H!: Share some highlights of the past year.
MD: “It goes without saying that Corbevax was the biggest highlight of 2022. Bringing out an affordable, effective and safe vaccine is in itself a feat. It was nothing short of a miracle to develop, scale up and manufacture it in under 18 months. While chasing a solution for Covid, we also had routine vaccine supplies continue without any disruptions. All our pipeline products were on track, and our 14-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine also received licensure. This was a really significant milestone for Biological E.”
H!: What do you most look forward to in 2023?
MD: “Licensing the 14-valent paediatric pneumococcal conjugate vaccine was a great end to last year. This year, we look forward to supplying this across the countries that need them the most. We’re also really excited about expanding our R&D infrastructure and have just laid the ground for a new campus.”
H!: How would you define success?
MD: “This is really hard for me to answer because the word itself implies that you have had a definition for it — and I’m not sure whether I do. But if I’m forced to, I guess success would be having managed to live a really happy and impactful life. So far, so good!”
H!: Your company made giant strides in India’s vaccination space. Can you elaborate on the impact of taking on such a colossal demand for something no one could have foreseen the magnitude of ?
MD: “Historically, our focus was always on vaccines for known diseases. Covid changed that because this was an unprecedented challenge for humanity. Being a vaccine maker (and without meaning to sound dramatic), it felt like a calling. We felt this searing need to be part of a solution. We were lucky the vaccines worked! Our team was determined, and we all came together like never before.”
H!: What, according to you, does it take to successfully run such a behemoth globally?
MD: “A sense of humour! But jokes apart, I’m sure it’s different for every field. For us, science and the safety of children are at the heart of everything we do. It’s also crucial that we make vaccines that are affordable because it’s governments that provide vaccines for free to its people. We are sensitive to the pressures they face, particularly in times of economic uncertainty in a number of countries. The rest is really a team of really talented and committed individuals and being able to provide resources to enable our vision to turn into reality.”
H!: What makes you the happiest? And how do you spend your downtime?
MD: “I’m happiest when I’m working and when I’m with my family. I work with some of my family, so it’s a bonus. When I’m not working, I binge watch TV on some days and dabble with cooking. Lately, I’ve become slightly obsessive with gardening.”
This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the February 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!