Her Story

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw- A Journey marked by determination


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a chairman and managing director of Biocon which is India’s largest biotechnology company. She started their journey from trainer to successful MD of Biocon. In 2004, she became India’s richest woman. At present in 2016, she has been listed one more time in “Forbes” – the most powerful woman in the world at 77th position.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was born on March 23, 1953 in Bangalore. She started her schooling at Bishop Cotton Girls School and Mount Carmel College at Bangalore. After doing completing her B.Sc. in Zoology from Bangalore University in 1973, she went to Ballarat University in Melbourne, Australia and qualified as a master brewer.

She started her journey as a trainee brewer in Carlton & United Beverages in 1974. In 1978, she joined as Trainee Manager with Biocon Biochemical Limited in Ireland. In the same year, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw founded Biocon India in collaboration with Biocon Bio chemicals Limited. She initially faced many challenges related to funds for her business. Banks were not fully supporting in giving loan to her as biotechnology was a totally new field at that time.

Biocon’s first operation was to extract an enzyme from papaya. Under Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s leadership Biocon transformed from an industrial enzymes company to an integrated biopharmaceutical company with strategic research initiatives. Today, Biocon is recognised as India’s largest biotech company. In 2004, Biocon came up with an IPO and the issue was over-subscribed by over 30 times. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was regarded as India’s richest woman with an estimated worth of Rs. 2,100 crores.

Biocon started as an industrial enzyme manufacturer and commenced exporting to USA and Europe. She focused on discovery of novel enzymes and novel techniques for development of solid fermentation technology through research and development and that took the company’s operations to a new dimension. In 1989, they became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for biotech technology.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw achieved many more prestigious awards such as ET Business of the year, Best woman entrepreneur, Model Employer, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year for life sciences and healthcare, leading exporter, outstanding citizen, Padmashri (1989) and Padma Bhushan (2005).

As one of India’s known technology start-ups after Patni Computers, founded in 1976, Biocon today stands strong among them. No life science business companies have come up in nearly 15 years. When Biocon went public in 2004, many believed that it would long way for other biotechnology companies to follow suit. Not a single firm did.

From brewer to biotech queen, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw managed to take multiple risks to build business within business. Much like evolution, but on a shorter time frame. A brewer, who did not understand what a joint venture meant, today makes a deal almost every quarter. As we know, much of her selection, like in nature, has been based on random mutual co-ordination.

Biotech companies have traditionally started first with science. She started with technology, and added science at the back end, and then kept adding to it. She says. “All those who understood biotech in those days gravitated towards me. At that time, it made a lot more sense to get engineers who would help me deliver products, it was never about science.”

Apart from Biocon, Mazumdar Shaw has been involved with several philanthropic activities. She has a CSR wing called Biocon Foundation that focuses on health, education and infrastructure in rural areas. She supports the Arogya Raksha Yojana and also established Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre in Bangalore. Quite a journey for an entrepreneur who began her journey as a trainee and is now the 92nd Most Powerful Woman in the World.



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