Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is an Indian entrepreneur and businesswoman. She is a self-made billionaire with a net worth of around 360 crores USD. Mazumdar-Shaw is the founder and chairperson of Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India. In 2019, Forbes listed her as the 68th most powerful woman in the world. In addition, she was named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2020. From starting her company in the garage of her rented home to building one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies, here’s her success story.
Kiran Mazumdar was born on 23 March 1953 in Bangalore, Karnataka. She completed her education at Bishop Cotton Girl’s High school in 1968. Later, Mazumdar attended Mount Carmel College where she studied biology and zoology, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1973. Mazumdar wanted to go to medical school but unfortunately, she failed to obtain a scholarship.
After her father suggested Mazumdar to study fermentation science, she went to Melbourne University in Australia to study malting and brewing. She trained to become a brewmaster, a very nonorthodox field for women. Mazumdar was the only woman in the brewing course and topped the class. She graduated with a degree as a master brewer in 1975. After graduating, she worked in Australia for a while. Mazumdar also worked as a technical consultant in Calcutta and as a technical manager in Baroda from 1975 and 1977.
While looking for job opportunities in Delhi and Bangalore, she was told that she could not be hired as a master brewer in India because “It’s a man’s work.” Eventually, she looked for jobs abroad and moved to Ireland. In Ireland, she met the founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited who was looking for a partner in India. Mazumdar agreed to take up the job and worked as a trainee manager for a brief period of time.
Starting Biocon Limited
After learning about the business in Ireland, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw returned to India. In 1978, she started Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bengaluru with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000. Initially, Mazumdar faced great difficulties because of her age and gender. During the early stage of her business, she failed to get secure funding for her company. Finally, she was able to get her first financial backing. Her first employee was a retired garage mechanic and faced difficulty recruiting people. In addition, she faced problems associated with trying to build a biotech business in a country with bad infrastructure.
Within a year, Biocon became the first company to manufacture enzymes and export them to the U.S. and Europe. After a year of running her business, Mazumdar bought a 20-acre property with plans to expand in the future. Today, the company manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients that are sold in over 120 countries across the globe. In 2004, Mazumdar started the Biocon Foundation. The foundation aims at health, education, and infrastructure, especially in rural areas of Karnataka which lack healthcare facilities.
Lessons we can learn
With hard work and determination, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw proved that anything is possible. Even though she faced challenges due to being a woman, Mazumdar showed persistence and achieved her goals. She once said, “I managed to do things with a lot of common sense, a lot of determination, and a lot of foolish courage”. We should never give up and always believe in ourselves.
How old is Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw?
She is 68 years old.
When did Kiran Mazumdar start Biocon?
She started Biocon India in 1978.