Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

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Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw David Shankbone 2010.jpg
Born Kiran Mazumdar
(1953-03-23) 23 March 1953 (age 61)
Bangalore, India
Residence Bangalore, India
Nationality IndiaIndian
Education Mount Carmel College, Bangalore University.
Occupation Chairperson of Biocon
Net worth IncreaseUS$655 million (as of October 2013)[1]
Religion Hindu
Spouse(s) John Shaw[2][3]
Awards Othmer Gold Medal (2014)

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (born 23 March 1953) is an Indian entrepreneur. She is the chairman and managing director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore (Bengaluru), India[4] and the current chairperson of IIM-Bangalore.[5] In 2014, she was awarded the Othmer Gold Medal, for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry.[6][7][8][9][10] She is on the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list.[11] As of 2014, she is listed as the 92nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Kiran Mazumdar was born to Gujarati parents in Bangalore, India.[12] She went to school at Bangalore’s Bishop Cotton Girl's High School, graduating in 1968. She then attended Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, an affiliate of Bangalore University. She studied biology and zoology, graduating from Bangalore University with a B.Sc. in Zoology in 1973.[13][14][15] Mazumdar originally hoped to go to medical school, but did not obtain a scholarship.[16]

Her father, Rasendra Mazumdar, was the head brewmaster at United Breweries. He suggested that Kiran study fermentation science, and train to be a brewmaster, a very nontraditional field for a woman.[16] Mazumdar went to Ballarat College of Advanced Education in Australia to study Malting and Brewing. In 1974 she was the only woman enrolled in the brewing course, and the top of her class.[17] She earned the degree of Master Brewer in 1975.[2][14][17]

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.[14][18] However, when she investigated the possibility of further work in Bangalore or Delhi, she was told that she would not be hired as a master brewer in India because "It's a man's work."[19]:152-153 [20] She began to look abroad, and was offered a position in Scotland.[19]:154[21]:108


External video
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw Women in Chemistry from video.png
"I managed to do things with a lot of common sense, a lot of determination, and a lot of foolish courage", Chemical Heritage Foundation

Before Kiran could move, she met Leslie Auchincloss, founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland. Auchincloss's company produced enzymes for use in the brewing, food-packaging and textile industries. Auchincloss was looking for an Indian entrepreneur to help establish an Indian subsidiary.[19]:154 Mazumdar eventually agreed to undertake the job on the condition that if she did not wish to continue after six months she would be guaranteed a brewmaster's position comparable to the one she was giving up.[21]:108

Beginning with enzymes[edit]

After a brief period as a Trainee Manager at Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland, to learn more about the business, Kiran Mazumdar returned to India.[21]:109 She started Biocon India in 1978 in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000.[22] Although it was a joint venture, Indian laws restricted foreign ownership to 30% of the company, with the remaining 70% belonging to Kiran Mazumdar.[23]

Initially, she faced credibility challenges because of her youth, gender and her untested business model. Funding was a problem: no bank wanted to lend to her, and some requested that her father be a guarantor. A chance meeting with a banker at a social event finally enabled her to get her first financial backing.[20]:104[21]:109[19]:156 She also found it difficult to recruit people to work for her start-up. Her first employee was a retired garage mechanic.[16] Her first factory was in a nearby 3,000-square-foot shed.[19]:154 As well, she faced the technological challenges associated with trying to build a biotech business in a country with a shaky infrastructure.[19]:156 Uninterrupted power, superior quality water, sterile labs, imported research equipment, and workers with advanced scientific skills were not easily available in India during the time.

The company's initial projects were the extraction of papain (an enzyme from papaya used to tenderize meat) and isinglass (obtained from tropical catfish and used to clarify beer).[20]:104 Within a year of its inception, Biocon India was able to manufacture enzymes and to export them to the United States and Europe, the first Indian company to do so.[19]:156 At the end of her first year, Kiran Mazumdar used her earnings to buy a 20-acre property, dreaming of future expansion.[16]

Expanding into biopharmaceuticals[edit]

Mazumdar-Shaw spearheaded Biocon's evolution from an industrial enzymes manufacturing company to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company with a well-balanced business portfolio of products and a research focus on diabetes, oncology and auto-immune diseases.[24][25] She also established two subsidiaries: Syngene (1994) which provides early research and development support services on a contract basis and Clinigene (2000) which focuses on clinical research trials and the development of both generic and new medicines.[26]:211-212[20]:106[19]:158[21]:111[18]

Mazumdar-Shaw is responsible for establishing Biocon's direction. As early as 1984, she began to develop a research and development team at Biocon, focusing on discovery of novel enzymes and on development of novel techniques for solid substrate fermentation technology.[27]:30-31 The company's first major expansion came in 1987, when Narayanan Vaghul of ICICI Ventures (Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India) supported creation of a venture capital fund of US$250,000.[21]:113 The money enabled Biocon to expand its research and development efforts and build a new plant featuring proprietary solid substrate fermentation technology based on a semi-automated tray culture process inspired by Japanese techniques.[19]:156[21]:110[27] In 1989, Biocon became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technologies.[19]:158

In 1990, Kiran Mazumdar incorporated Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited (BBLP) to manufacture and market a select range of biotherapeutics in a joint venture with the Cuban Center of Molecular Immunology.[19]:158

Establishing independence[edit]

In 1989 Biocon Biochemicals of Ireland was acquired from Leslie Auchincloss by Unilever.[28]:50 Unilever was not interested in the biopharmaceuticals part of the business, and sold it, as part of its specialty chemicals division, to Imperial Chemical Industries in 1997.[23] In 1998, Kiran Mazumdar's fiancée, Scotsman John Shaw, personally raised $2 million to purchase the outstanding Biocon shares.[21]:106[29] The couple married in 1998, whereupon she became known as Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. John Shaw left his position as chairman at Madura Coats to join Biocon.[30] He became Biocon’s vice chairman in 2001.[16]

In 2004, after seeking the advice of Narayana Murthy, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw decided to list Biocon on the stock market.[21]:114 She hoped to access capital to further develop Biocon's research programs. Biocon was the first biotechnology company in India to issue an IPO.[19]:159 Biocon's IPO was oversubscribed 33 times and its first day at the bourses closed with a market value of $1.11 billion,[19]:159 making Biocon only the second Indian company to cross the $1-billion mark on the first day of listing.[31]


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.[18]

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 also the largest perfusion-based antibody production facilities.

Philanthropic activities[edit]

In 2004, she started the Biocon Foundation to conduct health and environmental programs to benefit of the economically weaker sections of society. The Biocon Foundation's 7 ARY clinics are located where healthcare facilities are poor and they offer clinical care, generic medicines and basic tests for those who cannot afford them. Each of the clinics serves a population of 50,000 people living within a radius of 10 km.[18] All the clinics organise regular general health checks in remote villages by bringing in physicians and doctors from network hospitals. Each year, the Foundation touches more than 300,000 lives through its holistic healthcare approach.

The death of her best friend, Nilima Rovshen, and the illnesses of her husband and her mother from cancer, have motivated her to strongly support cancer research and treatment. She helped establish a 1,400-bed cancer care center, the Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center, at the Narayana Health City campus at Boommasandra, Bangalore, along with Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya in 2007. She has since added a center for advanced therapeutics with a bone marrow transplant unit and a research center. Her goal is to create a world-class cancer center.[32]

She liked the innovation model and thinking that Dr. Prasad Kaipa brought to Biocon and funded multi-year research at Indian School of Business by creating Biocon Cell for Innovation Management[33] as part of Center for Leadership Innovation and Change.

Board memberships[edit]

Mazumdar-Shaw is a member of the board of governors of the prestigious Indian School of Business[34] and a past member of the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.[35]

As of February 2014, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw became the first woman to head the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB).[36][37][38]

Awards and honours[edit]

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw with the Othmer Gold Medal, 2014

As of 2010, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw was named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.[39] She is on the 2011 Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list.[11] As of 2014, she is listed as the 92nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[1]

International awards[edit]

Mazumdar-Shaw is the recipient of several prestigious international awards including the Othmer Gold Medal (2014) for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry,[6] the Nikkei Asia Prize (2009) for Regional Growth,[40][41][42] the ‘Veuve Clicquot Initiative For Economic Development For Asia' Award (2007),[43] Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Life Sciences & Healthcare (2002),[44] and 'Technology Pioneer' recognition by World Economic Forum (2002).[45]

Indian awards[edit]

Her pioneering work in the biotechnology sector has earned her numerous national awards, including the prestigious Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005) from the government of India.[45][46] She was given the Economic Times Award for 'Businesswoman of the Year' in 2004.[47] At the Pharmaleaders Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit she was named "Global Indian Woman of the Year" (2012);[48][49] she also received the Express Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit Award for "Dynamic Entrepreneur" in 2009.[46] The Indian Merchants' Chamber Diamond Jubilee Endowment Trust's Eminent Businessperson of the Year Award was presented to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in 2006 by the Governor of Maharashtra, S. M. Krishna.[50] She also has received the Indian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award (2005),[51] the 'Corporate Leadership Award' by the American India Foundation (2005).[52][53] and the the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (2002).[46][54]

Honorary degrees[edit]

Mazumdar-Shaw received an honorary Doctorate of Science in 2004, from her alma mater, Ballarat University, in recognition of her contributions to biotechnology.[17] She has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Abertay, Dundee, UK (2007),[55] the University of Glasgow, UK (2008), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK (2008) and University College Cork, Ireland (2012).[56] She received an honorary doctorate from Davangere University, India, at its first convocation, 27 July 2013, in recognition of her contribution in the field of Biotechnology.[57]


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External links[edit]