Biocon MD Charismatic Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s Success Story

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is an iconic figure in the field of bio pharmaceuticals. She is the Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon, India’s largest listed biotechnology company based in Bangalore. She is also the present chairperson of IIM-Bangalore. She has also been actively involved in philanthropic activities and addressing issues concerning the common public like infrastructure, healthcare and education. As of September 2014 with a net worth of $1.2 Billion, she is India’s 81st richest person and world’s 92nd Most Powerful Woman. Shaw is also an honorary member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade & Industry in India and the US-India CEO Forum. Thus Kiran plays highly important roles for the betterment of the nation as a whole.

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Kiran Mazumdar’s father was the head brewmaster at United Breweries. He wanted his daughter to do the same job. Kiran studied malting and brewing in the University of Ballarat in Melbourne, Australia. She was the only girl in her class. Even though she topped her class and acquired work experience in Australia and India, Kiran was told that the job of a brewer and maltster was not meant for a girl. So she decided to go to Scotland to accept a job offer.While she was thinking of moving to Scotland, Kiran met the founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited, Ireland. The founder, Leslie Auchincloss, was looking for someone to set up an Indian subsidiary of Biocon. Kiran stepped in and started her incredible journey to success.

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After a short training in Ireland, 25-year-old Kiran moved back India in 1978 and started Biocon India. But it wasn’t a smoothjourney. Initially, she faced many challenges like credibility due to her young age, being a woman & her experimental business model and funding problems. Recruitment in the company was also tough for her because nobody wanted to work for a startup. Her first employee was a retired garage mechanic!

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Kiran also faced a number of frustrating technological challenges like unstable infrastructure, power, poor quality water, unhygienic labs, low-quality research equipment, workers without advanced scientific skills and many more. But she wasn’t ready to give up. Overcoming all these challenges, within a year Biocon India became the first company in India to be able to manufacture enzymes and export them to the United States and Europe. Soon Kiran transformed Biocon to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company, a company with a well-balanced business portfolio of products and a research focus on diabetes, oncology and auto-immune diseases.

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Awards and Recognition

  • Kiran Mazumdar Shaw received the Padma Shri in 1989
  •  She was listed by TIME magazine (2010) amongst the 100 most influential people in the world
  • She was awarded the Othmer Gold Medal (2014) , for outstanding contribution to the progress of science and chemistry
  • Shaw became the first woman to head the Board of Governors of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) (2014)
  • She was named “Global Indian Woman of the Year” at the Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit (2012)
  • Kiran was awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth (2009)
  • She was awarded the ‘Veuve Clicquot Initiative for Economic Development for Asia’ (2007)
  • Shaw received the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Chamber of Commerce (2005)
  • She received the ‘Corporate Leadership Award’ by the American India Foundation (2005)
  • She was awarded as ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ by Economic Times (2004)
  • Received the Padma Bhushan award in 2005

In business, Kiran admires Indra Nooyi, because of the approach used by her to transform Pepsi from a junk fast food organization to a ‘healthy’ fast food organization. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is married to Scotsman John. Shaw loves art and has a big collection of paintings and other art works. She is also likes writing and has written several books like “Ale & Arty”- the story of Beer.

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Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has achieved all what she desired and dreamt of. But everything comes at a price so also success. She got married only at the age of 44 because she couldn’t find time to fall in love and get married! Her work was so important that she couldn’t even think about having children. It pinches her sometimes. But Shaw doesn’t hold any regrets. After all commitments to work and nation need sacrifices and these sacrifices have led her to achieve all what she has so far.

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