“THERE IS NO FORCE MORE POWERFUL THAN A WOMAN DETERMINED TO RISE.” -Dorothy Dandridge
She is a woman of vision. A woman with desires. She is an Indian billionaire entrepreneur who tries to learn every single day. She built her own fortune from scratch. She is none other than Kiran Mazumdar Shaw; a woman inspiring millions of budding women entrepreneurs.
Here is the story of a self-made billionaire who values hard work, perseverance, and dedication. Known for breaking all the barriers, one who worked hard to achieve her goals, is currently the chairperson and managing director of one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies in the world, Biocon Limited.
Early Life of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Shaw took birth in Bangalore, India on March 23rd, 1953. She completed her schooling at Bishop’s Cotton Girls High School in 1968. Thereafter, she took admission to Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, and completed her graduation in Zoology in 1973.
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Kiran’s father Mr. Rasendra Mazumdar, was a reputed head brewmaster at United Breweries. He was a man of vision and wanted Kiran to get exposed to Fermentation Science. He trained her to become a brewmaster.
In 1974, Shaw became the only woman to enroll herself in the brewing course at Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education. She learned malting and brewing at Federation University. Her performance in the class was phenomenal and thus she topped the class and graduated as a master brewer.
Dr. Kiran’s Entrepreneurial Journey and challenges faced by her
Kiran was all set to enter into the professional world. To learn and gain deeper insights into the brewing world, she joined as a trainee in Carlton and United Breweries in 1974. She also took training at Barrett Brothers and Burston in Australia as a maltster. After returning home, she joined Jupiter Breweries Limited in Calcutta as a Technical Consultant and later worked as a Technical Manager at Standard Maltings Corporation in Baroda.
In the mid-70s Leslie Auchincloss, founder of Ireland-based Biocon Biochemicals Limited was looking for an Indian entrepreneur who could help him establish an Indian subsidiary. Kiran collaborated with the company and this opportunity became a life turning event for her. Leslie trained her to become a manager at his company in Ireland. As a trainee manager, she understood the revenue model of the company. After coming back to India, she rented a garage space in Bangalore with an investment of only Rupees 10,000 only.
Although the joint venture between Kiran and Leslie’s company began in India but it wasn’t easy for her. As biotechnology was a completely new field, she faced a lot of difficulties in establishing the company and getting the loans approved by banks. Recruiting and convincing people to join a startup wasn’t easy at all. Her first employee was a retired garage mechanic.
It was also a tiring process to arrange sterile labs, efficient workers, necessary research equipment, and other scientific skills. Challenges were many but she anyhow managed to set up her factory in a 3,000 square feet area.
Kiran faced many obstacles but she didn’t give up and overcame all the barriers that came her way.
How did the expansion of her company take place?
Pic Credit- CNBC TV18
Kiran’s company first started as an industrial enzyme manufacturer and began exporting to the United States and Europe. As the company started making profits, Kiran had enough money to buy a 20-acre plot.
Within no time, Biocon became a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company. In 1984 Kiran discovered some new dimensions. A research and development team was formed at Biocon that focused on the discovery of novel techniques for the development of solid substrate fermentation.
1987 brought with itself some new opportunities. Narayanan Vagul of ICICI ventures supported the creation of a venture capital fund of $250,000 for the company. The company reached another milestone when it became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technology in 1989.
In 1994, Kiran looked forward to establishing a subsidiary of the company that came to be known as Syngene. It provided research and development support services on a contractual basis.
Dr. Kiran’s Better half – John Shaw- A Supportive Husband
A woman with a vision needed a man with a kind heart. India’s biotech queen met John Shaw at the headquarters of Madura Coats as the managing director and chairperson of the firm.
Pic Credits- Times of India
John and Kiran decided to get married after seven years of knowing each other and the event coincided with an opportunity for Kiran’s company to become fully independent and buy back its share from Unilever. Unfortunately, she lacked funding. That’s when John extended his full support to Kiran.
Currently, John is serving as the vice president of Biocon and encourages Kiran in every possible way. John’s support helped Kiran to transform a small Biocon company into a big biotech group.
We can proudly say that behind this biotech queen is a supporting man.
How many Achievements and Recognitions she has received?
It is rightly said by Aristotle that “WE ARE WHAT WE REPEATEDLY DO. EXCELLENCE, THEREFORE, IS NOT AN ACT BUT A HABIT.”
Kiran has received many awards and recognitions so far because of her exemplary work. She received her first-ever award from the National Institute of Marketing Management. The institute awarded her the Best Woman Entrepreneur Award.
In 1989, she was also awarded Padma Shri for pioneering biotechnology in India from the former President of India, R Venkatraman. She was also honored with the Woman of the Year Award from the International Women’s Association in 1999.
Kiran Mazumdar is undoubtedly an inspiration for all. She showed her excellence to the nation and her contribution to India gained recognition when she received one of India’s highest civilian honors from honorary scientist and President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
Pic Credit- Times of India
She also got featured on Time Magazine’s 2010 list of 100 most influential people in the world and Forbes’s 2011 list of 100 most powerful women. She has been awarded Australia’s highest civilian honor the “order of Australia” award for her significant service to advancing bilateral relationships with India. In early 2020.
Dr. Shaw’s interest in Philanthropic Activities
Kiran cares about society and those in need. Her philanthropic efforts are reflected in the field of healthcare. She focuses on providing sustainable and affordable healthcare for marginalized communities.
She has also invested $1.6 million in two cancer curated startups and did a partnership with famous heart surgeon Dr. Devi Shetty and established 1400-bed Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Center in the home town Bangalore. Her goal is to deliver inexpensive and world-class cancer care facilities to every patient regardless of their social and economic status.
Pic Credit: CSRBox
She also has a Corporate Social Responsibility Wing called Biocon Foundation since the company’s inception. It focuses on sustainable solutions to address the developmental challenges in India. It also emphasizes education, infrastructure, and health in rural areas.
Her philanthropic efforts are highly commendable as her business and philanthropic goals are aligned very closely. Her business strategy is to develop affordable therapies for chronic diseases.
India’s Pharmaceutical Giant – Founded By Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Biocon is a global pharmaceutical company that believes that everyone has a right 0to affordable healthcare products and good quality medicines. It aims to achieve health equity across the globe. Its distinct vision makes it one of the best global biopharmaceutical companies.
The company has paved the way for biotechnology in India and is advancing in it for more than 40 years. With an aim to provide everyone, everywhere affordable access to life-saving therapies, it is improving the lives of people living in more than 120 countries. Biocon believes in working with talented people and therefore, It has a dedicated workforce of more than 12 thousand employees.
The company’s key therapeutic areas include oncology, diabetes, and immunology. In the field of diabetes, the company serves as a global biosimilar player to recombinant human insulin and insulin Glargine.
The company is also focused on providing world-class cancer care therapies that improve patients’ lives across the globe. In the field of immunology, it delivers innovative therapies for patients suffering from autoimmune diseases.
The company tries its best in making affordable health services accessible to all.
DOWNFALL OF BIOCON
Shaw once said that I really believe that entrepreneurship is about being able to face failure, manage failure, and succeed after failing.
Unfortunately, Biocon company witnessed its June 2020 quarter net profit falling 28% to Rs.149 crore. It also reported disappointing earnings in October 2020. The shares of the company fell nearly 7 percent in intra-day trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
Kiran is very proud of Biocon as it made a significant contribution in addressing the pandemic period through innovative science. She considers it a breakthrough quarter for the company.
Kiran, who also got caught in the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic said that she is hopeful that the vaccine will be in India by June 2021. Moreover, Biocon is also working on a comprehensive portfolio of products for treating covid-19 patients.
Pic Credit: The Wire Science
The second richest self-made woman in India is a shining star. Nobody knew about this woman when she set up the company but it is said that hard work always pays off one day. Kiran Mazumdar is now one of the most influential women in the country.
With the blessings of her father, she progressed each day. With a net worth of $4.6 billion, Kiran is living up to her own expectations. At a time when it was considered a myth to send a woman out for work, Kiran broke all the stereotypes that came her way. She showed the world her worth living up to her dreams.