Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

3 Indians on inaugural Forbes list of Global Game Changers

Rahul Bhatia, Cyrus Poonawalla and Sunny Varkey feature on this global list that recognises business leaders on the basis of the brilliance of their ideas and audacity of their ambitions.

Published: Apr 15, 2016 12:34:39 PM IST
Updated: Apr 22, 2016 07:58:44 PM IST
3 Indians on inaugural Forbes list of Global Game Changers
Image: Amit Verma
Through Indigo, Rahul Bhatia has brought the discounted airline model to the developing world, supersized it and made it profitable

Three Indian business leaders – Rahul Bhatia, whole-time director, InterGlobe Enterprises; Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman and managing director, Serum Institute of India; and Sunny Varkey, the Dubai-based founder and chairman of GEMS Education – have found their way into the inaugural edition of the Global Game Changers List , launched by Forbes on April 13, 2016.
The 2016 list features 30 of the most powerful business leaders worldwide, chosen from for-profit companies worth at least $1 billion, which have exhibited growth, innovation and global footprint and whose leaders are upending sectors and transforming lives.
“Although we sought balance in terms of industries and geography, in the end, inclusion (in the list) was mostly determined by the brilliance of their ideas and the audacity of their ambition,” says Steve Schaefer, senior editor at Forbes.
Bhatia, 55, has brought the discounted airline model to the developing world, supersized it and made it profitable. IndiGo, the group’s no-frill airline, is the largest and most profitable carrier in India. In 2015, it carried 29 million passengers, or two out of five domestic flyers. A tight control on costs, and focus on operational efficiencies saw IndiGo remain profitable even during the most turbulent times for Indian aviation, which was characterised by cut-throat competition between airlines, high fuel costs and airport taxes. IndiGo now flies internationally to destinations, including Dubai, Singapore, Bangkok, Kathmandu and Muscat.

Poonawalla, 74, helms the world’s largest vaccine-maker by volumes that produces 1.3 billion doses annually, used to immunise close to two-thirds of the world’s children. The company’s revenues are estimated at around $620 million. The entity supplies low-cost vaccines to 140 countries through international agencies such as UNICEF and Pan American Health Organisation. At Serum Institute, there is a constant focus on innovation and the new vaccines are being developed for ailments like diarrhoea, cervical cancer, pneumonia and tuberculosis.
Varkey, 59, a non-resident Indian based in Dubai, never went to college, but is instrumental in building the largest private network of K-12 schools in the world. His organisation’s focus has been on making education accessible to the girl child in regions where it wasn’t earlier. GEMS has 250,000 students enrolled in 240 schools in 17 countries across the globe.
Some of the other global business leaders that feature on the Global Game Changers list in 2016 include Larry Page, co-founder, Alphabet (formerly Google); Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder, chairman and CEO, Facebook; Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO,; Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO, Tesla Motors; Jack Ma, founder and CEO, Alibaba; and Bom Kim, founder and CEO, Coupang.

Full list here: Global Game Changers List