“I have never let gender get in my way. It has taken me over 30 years to get from a garage to the huge campus that we have today and it’s been long journey”
Kiran Mazundar Shaw, an Indian billionaire entrepreneur is the Chairman and Managing director of Biocon Ltd, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India. She is an Indian Chairperson, CEO, Entrepreneur, Businessperson, Scientist and founder of Biocon Ltd, Asia’s leading bio-pharmaceutical enterprise and the current chairperson of Indian Institute of Management- Bangalore. She is recipient of several prestigious awards including the Padmashri, Padma Bhushan, Economic Times Businesswomen of the Year, Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award for life Science & Health Care and Technology Pioneer Award. Under her leadership, her company has evolved fully integrated Bio-pharmaceutical enterprise encompassing a well balanced business portfolio of products and services with a research focus on autoimmune disease. Fierce Biotech ranked her among ‘world’s 25 most influential people in Bio-pharma’. Named among Times magazines 100 mot influential people in the world, she is the second Indian (after Azim Premji) to join the Giving Pledge Global initiative created by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates that encourages billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. She has established the 1,400 bed Mazundar Shaw Cancer Center in Bangalore to deliver affordable world-class cancer care services to patients irrespective of their financial or social status. In 2004, she became the richest women in India.
The daughter of a brew master for India based United Breweries, Kiran wanted to follow he father’s footsteps and hence went to Federation University (earlier University of Ballarat) in Australia to study Malting and Brewing and to earn the degree of Master Brewer in 1975, which was a very non-traditional field for women. In 1974, she was the only woman on the brewing course and she topped in her class. After returning to India she found that no companies are willing to offer a brewing job because ‘It’s a man’s work’ but she started working at Biocon Biochemical’s Ltd I Ireland and the same year she founded her own company named Biocon in India I collaboration with Biocon Biochemical’s Ltd, with a capital investment of Rs 10,000/- in the garage of her rented house in Bengaluru. She faced incredible challenges due to lack of funds for her business. Banks rejected her loan as biotechnology was a totally new field at that time and she was a woman entrepreneur. In addition to this, she found in India it is difficult to find employees to work for a woman or to find investors despite knowing her expertise and dedication. Infact, some vendors even refused to do business with her unless she hired a male manager. But self-confident Kiran never got disheartened and within a year Biocon had become the first Indian company to export enzymes to the US and Europe and she never looked backed.