Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw


Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is a name that is synonymous with the biotechnology industry in India and the success that women entrepreneurs can achieve in the country. She founded the multi-billion-dollar company, Biocon, which has put India on the global biopharmaceuticals map. The revolutionary efforts of women like Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw have paved the way for women in business in India today to enjoy equal opportunity and fewer biases. 

Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw had graduated as a Master Brewer in 1975 from a brewing school in Australia. Despite being the first woman brewmaster in the country, she was denied the job of heading a brewery because of gender bias. Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw’s entrepreneurial journey took off after the founder of Ireland-based Biocon Biochemicals approached her for a partnership to source some enzymes from India. Though she did not have a business background, Dr. Mazumdar-Shaw took the daring decision to start her own company, Biocon, in a rented garage in Bangalore.

When she started Biocon, the odds were stacked against her as a woman and as an entrepreneur. She faced great difficulties in recruiting people and funding. Banks were unwilling to lend her money without a guarantor. Her fortitude led Biocon to brave the odds in building a business model around the then nascent field of biotechnology.

Between 2017 and 2019, Biocon’s net sales grew by an average of 19% per year. The company’s market capitalization in November 2019 was more than INR 30,000 crore. Dr Mazumdar-Shaw’s leadership inspires the company to continously explore new possibilities. 

A thought leader and a global influencer, she was the recipient of Padma Shri in 1989 and the Padma Bhushan in 2005. She was also conferred with the highest French distinction, ‘Knight of the Legion of Honour’ in 2016. She believes in compassionate capitalism and is the first woman business leader from India to sign the Giving Pledge, an initiative of the Gates Foundation. She is very passionate about innovation and mentors many science-based start-ups.