Kiran Mazumdar Shaw Chairman and Managing director, Biocon limited

As we are celebrating women’s day on 8th March 2012, we dedicate this month’s spark of the corporate section to the entire woman around the world.

Woman, who is not only a successful home maker, is also an entrepreneur and businesses women who is capable of running an enterprise.

We shall be talking about some of the successful women who have not only contributed their efforts in the corporate field, but also inspired many to step into the field.

As we are talking about women power, we shall start with the most successful business women, a born entrepreneur by thought-The best suited and apt lady to kick off this section is none other than, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing director of Biocon limited (A Biotechnology Company, Bangalore). If the Indian biotechnology industry has a cover girl, it is Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, a voluble 48-year-old who owns Biocon, the country's biggest biotechnology company.

Early Days

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was born on March 23, 1953 in Bangalore, India.

Kiran has completed her schooling from the city’s Bishop Cotton Girl’s High School (1968). She wanted to join medical school instead took up biology and completed her BSc Zoology Honours course from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore University (1973). She later did her post-graduation in Malting and Brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University (1975).

She worked as a trainee brewer in Carlton and United Breweries, Melbourne and as a trainee maltster at Barrett Brothers and Burston, Australia. She also worked for some time as a technical consultant at Jupiter Breweries Limited, Calcutta and as a technical manager at Standard Maltings Corporation, Baroda between 1975 and 1977.

This biotech entrepreneur learnt the importance of self-reliance and personal re-invention at an early age.

Kiran recalls the entry into the brewery field; she recalls how her father inspired her to get into the field.

“Every time I had the feeling that I was at the bottom, I have risen to fulfil a larger design. I remember the first time I felt that way. I was a little girl in school. I knew that my father was a ‘brewer.’ I knew somewhere deep down that my father worked for the liquor industry. It brought me deep embarrassment. I felt he belonged to a tainted profession.

One day, I spoke to him about my sense of shame. He looked me in the eyes and told me that brewing was a science; it was not about getting drunk. He did not stop there. He said: ‘Do not make judgment on things, people, and issues with half information’.

He said there is truth in everything you see around. So, look for everything in its entirety. That was a game-changing moment for me. I started growing out of the low I felt. It may have been a juvenile moment but it became basic to my life’s philosophy."

In the year 1978, she joined Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland as a Trainee Manager. In the same year she started Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000.

That’s how India’s first Bio technology company has started.

Initially, she faced credibility challenges because of her youth, gender and her untested business model. Not only was funding a problem as no bank wanted to lend to her, but she also found it difficult to recruit people for her start-up. With single-minded determination she overcame these challenges only to be confronted with the technological challenges associated with trying to build a biotech business in a country facing infrastructural woes. Uninterrupted power, superior quality water, sterile labs, imported research equipment, and advanced scientific skills were not easily available in India during the time.

She is responsible for steering Biocon on a trajectory of growth and innovation over the years. Within a year of its inception, Biocon became the first Indian company to manufacture and export enzymes to USA and Europe. In 1989, Biocon became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technologies. In 1990, she upgraded Biocon’s in-house research program, based on a proprietary solid substrate fermentation technology.

In the same year, she incorporated Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited to manufacture and market a select range of biotherapeutics in a joint venture with the Cuban Centre of Molecular Immunology.

In 2004, she decided to access the capital markets to develop Biocon’s pipeline of research programs. Biocon’s IPO was oversubscribed 32 times and it’s first day at the bourses closed with a market value of $1.11 billion, making Biocon only the second Indian company to cross the $1-billion mark on the first day of listing She entered into more than 2,200 high-value R&D licensing and other deals within the pharmaceuticals and bio-pharmaceutical space between 2005 and 2010 and helped Biocon expand its global footprint to emerging and developed markets through acquisitions, partnerships and in-licensing. Her belief that healthcare needs can only be met with affordable innovation has been the driving philosophy that has helped Biocon manufacture and market drugs cost-effectively.

In 2007-08, a leading US trade publication, Med Ad News, ranked Biocon as the 20th leading biotechnology companies in the world and the 7th largest biotech employer in the world. Biocon also received the 2009 BioSingapore Asia Pacific Biotechnology Award for Best Listed Company.

Today, thanks to her leadership, Biocon is building cutting-edge capabilities, global credibility and global scale in its manufacturing and marketing activities. It has Asia’s largest insulin and statin facilities as also the largest perfusion-based antibody production facilities.

More about Kiran Mazumdar Shaw:

Country of Citizenship      :     India
Residence                          :     Bangalore
Alma                                   :     BSc Zoology (Honours), Bangalore University. PG in Malting and Brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University
Occupation                         :     Chairman and Managing director of Biocon limited
Marital status                    :     Married


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has received several awards on behalf of Biocon and in her personal capacity as one of India's leading business entrepreneurs.


  •     2012:
Biocon wins Best Exhibitor Award in the category of Biocontent and Information at Bangalore India Bio
Biocon wins Golden Peacock National Quality Award
  •     2011:
Biocon wins Biospectrum BioPharma Company of the year award
  •     2010:
Biocon wins Bio-Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Healthcare Sector at Bangalore India Bio
  •     2009:
Biocon among Top 20 Indian companies in Forbes 'Best Under A Billion' list
  •     Biocon wins Bio-Excellence Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Healthcare Sector at    Bangalore Bio
  •     Syngene wins Bio-Excellence Award for outstanding achievement in the Biotech Service Sector at Bangalore Bio
  •     Biocon bags IDMA "Best Patent of the year" award
  •     BIOMAb EGFR® was voted 'Bio-Spectrum Asia-Pacific Product of the year', 2008
  •     Biocon wins prestigious BioSingapore Asia Pacific Biotechnology Award for Best Listed Company
  •     2008:
Biocon is ranked among the top 20 global biotechnology companies (Source: Med Ad News, June 2008)
  •     Biocon is the 7th largest biotech employer in the world (Source: Med Ad News, June 2008)
  •     2007:
Syngene receives "BioServices Company of the Year", BioSpectrum Awards
  •     Biocon's BIOMAb EGFR® wins "Product of the Year", BioSpectrum Awards
  •     2006:
Best IT User Award in the Pharmaceutical Sector, NASSCOM
  •     2004:
India's first and No. 1 biotech company with a global ranking of 16* (Source: Biospectrum July 2004)
  •     Biocon in India's top 5 Life Sciences companies (at close of trade as on July 30, 2004)
  •     Best Reinvention of HR Function Award, Indira Group, Mumbai
  •     Best Employer Of India Award, Hewitt
  •     2003:
Bio-Business Award for bio-entrepreneurship, Rabo India
  •     Express Pharma Pulse Award for excellence in the pharmaceutical industry
  •     2001:
Biotech Product, Process Development and Commercialisation Award, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India
  •     2000:
Technology Pioneer Recognition, World Economic Forum
  •     1985:
Export Performance Award, Karnataka State Financial Corporation (KSFC)
  •     National Award for Best Small Industry, Government of India
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw:
  •     2012:
Fierce Biotech, Biotech industry's daily monitor placed Kiran Mazumdar Shaw among 25 most influential people in Biopharma Business
  •     2011:
Featured on the Financial Times 'Top 50 Women in Business' list
  •     2010:
Featured on the Forbes list of 'The World's 100 Most Powerful Women'
  •     Featured on the Financial Times 'Top 50 Women in Business' list
  •     Named among TIME magazine's 100 most influential people in the world
  •     2009:
Honoured with 'Nikkei Asia Prize' for Regional Growth
  •     Honoured with 'Express Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit Award' for Dynamic Entrepreneur
  •     2008:
Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
  •     Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Glasgow
  •     2007:
Honoured with the, 'Veuve Clicquot Initiative For Economic Development For Asia' award
  •     Honorary Doctor of Technology, University of Abertay, Dundee ( UK )
  •     2005:
Padmabhushan Award , one of India's highest civilian honours, from the President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
  •     Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
  •     The Indian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award
  •     Honorary Doctorate from Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), in recognition of outstanding achievements in biotechnology and industrial enzymes
  •     Rotary Award for Corporate Citizenship
  •     Business Leader of the Year Award - Biotechnology, Chemtech-Pharma Bio Awards
  •     2004:
Honorary Doctorate of Science from Ballarat University, in recognition of pre-eminent contribution to the field of biotechnology
  •     Business Woman Of The Year Award, The Economic Times
  •     2003:
Alumni High Achiever Award, Australian Alumni Association
  •    2002
Karnataka Rajyotsava Award for pioneering biotechnology in India, the Government of Karnataka
  •     Best Entrepreneur: Healthcare & Life Sciences Award, Ernst & Young
  •     Sir M. Visvesvaraya Memorial Award for contribution to biotechnology, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FKCCI)
  •     1999:
Woman of the Year Award, International Women's Association, Chennai
  •     1998:
Golden Jubilee Felicitation, Mount Carmel College, Bangalore
  •     1989:
Padmashri for pioneering biotechnology in India, Government of India
  •     1987:
Outstanding Young Person Award, Jaycees India
  •     1983:
Best Small Scale Industry in Karnataka Award, Rotary Club, Karnataka
  •     Best Model Employer Award, Rotary Club, Karnataka
  •     Outstanding Contribution Award, AWAKE
  •     1982:
Best Woman Entrepreneur Award, National Institute of Marketing Management, India

Quotes by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw:

  •     "Today anything can be done - we have the techniques"
  •     'Every time I had the feeling that I was at the bottom, I have risen to fulfill a larger design"
  •     "This is a huge sense of responsibility. It is a very privileged position. But it also goes hand in hand with responsibility. I do realise that I am a role model and I do stand for many values and value system that such a position holds."
  •     "When I started Biocon, no one had heard of biotechnology. Banks and financial institutions were wary of funding an inexperienced woman. But my unswerving faith in myself and perseverance made all the difference."
  •     "If I can do it, anyone can."

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