Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a popular personality and an entrepreneur, and she’s an icon mainly because she managed to break the traditional Indian bias against women and their capabilities.
Her Early Life and Education
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was born on March 23, 1953 in Bangalore. She went to the Bishop Cotton Girls’ High School for her education. She wanted to get into the medical profession. Still, she could not join the medical course, so she studied biology instead and completed her Bachelor of Science (honours) in Zoology from Mount Carmel College, affiliated with the Bangalore University, in 1973.
She then went to Melbourne, Australia, to do a post-graduation course in Malting and Brewing at the Ballarat College of the Melbourne University. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw started her career as a trainee in Carlton and United Breweries in Melbourne.
She then shifted to Barrett Brothers and Burston and joined as a trainee. Upon her return to India, she joined Jupiter Breweries Limited in Calcutta as a Technical Consultant and later joined Standard Malting Corporation in Baroda as a Manager. She married John Shaw in 1998.
Her Work and Achievements
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw founded Biocon India Limited in 1978 in collaboration with Biocon Biochemicals Limited in Ireland. Her company became one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in India, while it was only an industrial enzyme manufacturing company before. The company then focused on specific diseases like diabetes, auto-immune ailments, and oncology.
She went on to establish two subsidiary companies named Syngene in 1994 to support discovery research and development and Clinigene in 2000 to serve clinical development services. It has to be considered an achievement that a company with a startup capital of just Rs. 10,000 managed to become one the biggest names in the country for pharmaceuticals.
Kiran faced a herculean task while establishing the business, as her company was being run by a woman in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which was a conservative period in Indian society and also in the Indian political scenario, which was anyway controlling commerce and industry completely.
Biocon became one of the pioneering biotech companies to export to the US and obtained funding from them for research and development. The company has come a long way since then. It has its patents and biopharmaceutical company and is now working as an independent entity.
The company and its achievements have made Kiran Mazumdar Shaw one of the most influential women in the world. She is the 4th richest Indian woman and ranks 75th in the Forbes India list of richest Indians, with a net worth of $900 million.
She has received various accolades and has been given various awards like the MV Memorial Award, the Wharton Infosys Business Transformation Award, the Life Time Achievement Award by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2002 and most importantly a Padma Shri in 1989 and a Padma Bhushan in 2005.