Journey From An Ordinary Brewer To India’s Most Successful Businesswoman – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, one of the richest women entrepreneurs in India and the brain behind Biocon India, is an inspiration to many. She had seen many ups and downs in her career and it was certainly not an easy road for her to become the most celebrated businesswoman in the country. Did you know that there was a time in Kiran’s life when her family couldn’t even afford to pay her medical college’s fee? Did you know she didn’t get the job because she was following the untrodden path to becoming a brew master just like her father? Wondering, how she managed to achieve such unprecedented success?

In this blog, we will tell you everything about Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and her inspiring entrepreneurial journey.

Early years of Kiran Mazumdar Shaw 

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw was born on March 23, 1953 in Bangalore in a middle-class family. Her father was a head Brewmaster at United Brewerie and Kiran initially wanted to follow her father’s footsteps. But when she came into the middle age her career goals got changed as she aspired to become a doctor. However, destiny had other plans for her as she couldn’t get a scholarship in any medical college. In 1973, she graduated from Bangalore’s University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology. Later, Mazumdar went to Melbourne University in Australia to study malting and brewing at Ballarat College and completed the course in 1975 with the top ranking. Interestingly, Kiran was the only girl enrolled in the course of brewing. For the training purpose, Mazumdar worked in Carlton and United Breweries in Melbourne.

After gaining some experience in brewing in abroad, she came back to her homeland and started working as a technical consultant in Jupiter Breweries in Calcutta. Just when Kiran was getting to see herself as the master brewer in a reputed company in India just like her father, her dreams were crushed as she was told that “it’s a man’s profession” and a woman would not be employed as a brewer in India. Thus, she started looking for a job outside the country and soon she was given a position in Scotland.

Beginning of Biocon

Before Kiran could relocate from Scotland, she met Leslie Auchincloss, the founder of Biocon Biochemicals Limited in Cork, Ireland. Leslie’s firm produced enzymes used in the brewing, food packaging, and textile sectors. At that time, he was looking for a talented Indian entrepreneur who could assist him in establishing a subsidiary in India. Kiran took up the task and started working with that company. In 1978, Kiran Mazumdar began Biocon in India with an initial investment of 10,000 at a rented garage space in Bangalore.

Obstacles in the road

Kiran had to face many hurdles in the beginning of her entrepreneurial career. Her untested business model became a biggest challenge for her as no bank was ready to lend her money for the funding. Not only this, Kiran had also dealt with some technical issues to build a biotech business in a country with poor infrastructure. Despite all the odds, Kiran was confident of establishing a successful business on her own and eventually overcame her entrepreneurial barriers in a less period of time. Within a year, Biocon India was able to produce industrial enzymes and even export them to Europe and USA. The extraction of papain (a papaya enzyme used to tenderize the meat) and isinglass was the first effort made by the company.

Also Read: Rise Of Institutional Investments In Delhi-NCR Giving Boost To Commercial Business

Reaching to the top

Using her impeccable leadership skills and sharp mind, Kiran completely transformed the face of Biocon India – from being just an enzyme producing company to becoming a fully integrated biopharmaceutical company. In no time, Biocon became the first Indian biotech company to receive funding from the United States for its unique technology. In 2004, Biocon India even launched its IPO which was oversubscribed 33 times. It’s first day closed with the market value of $1.1 billion and with this it became India’s only second company to cross the $1 billion-mark on the very first day of being listed in stock market.

Apart from the biotech firm, Kiran Mazumdar has also been involved in several Philanthropic activities as well. She established Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre in Bangalore in 2000.

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