Published on April 26th, 2016 | by Saurabh Pandey0
One of the World’s Most Powerful Women: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, a pioneering biotech entrepreneur, is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon, Asia’s leading bio-pharmaceuticals enterprise. Named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, she is recognized as a global thought leader for Biotechnology. Under her stewardship, Biocon has evolved since its inception in 1978 from an industrial enzymes company to a fully-integrated, innovation-led, emerging global biopharmaceutical enterprise committed to reduce therapy costs of chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
As a global influencer, she is ranked among Fierce Biotech’s list of the ‘World’s 25 Most Influential People in Biopharma,’ Forbes’ ‘100 Most Powerful Women’ and Fortune’s ‘Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Asia-Pacific.’ Recently, she was featured in ‘The Worldview 100’ listing of Biotech Visionaries in the prestigious US-based Scientific American magazine. She was also ranked second in the Global Medicine Maker Power List 2015, a top UK-based medical publication. U.S.-based Chemical Heritage Foundation conferred her with the ‘2014 Othmer Gold Medal’ and Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy awarded her its coveted ‘2014 Global Economy Prize’ for the US based Business Foreign Policy magazine has named her among the ‘100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014’.
Importantly, she has been recognized with the Padma Shri (1989) & the Padma Bhushan (2005), two of India’s prestigious civilian honors.
Did You Know?
When Kiran Mazumdar returned from Australia with a degree in brewing in 1970s. No one was willing to take the risk of hiring a woman, not even United Breweries, where her father, Rasendra Mazumdar, had worked for 27 years.
‘I have learnt that gender discrimination obliterates when you succeed and overcome credibility and perception hurdles’ – said, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
In 1978, Mazumdar Shaw joined Biocon Biochemicals Limited, Ireland as a trainee manager. Soon after joining them, she started the Indian arm of the company in the same year. She rented a garage space in Bangalore and with an initial investment of Rs. 10,000 she commenced her entrepreneurial journey. Initially, she did face issues like banks would not trust her idea and loans were a problem since biotechnology was a new field and women entrepreneurs back then were rare. Some would even ask her father to be guarantor. She also faced issues in recruiting and convincing people to join her startup. Her first employee was a retired garage mechanic. Uninterrupted power, superior quality water, sterile labs, imported research equipment, and workers with advanced scientific skills were not easily available. She still did not give up and continued to work hard.
Biocon started as an industrial enzyme manufacturer and commenced exporting to USA and Europe. Within the first year, Mazumdar Shaw’s venture started churning profits. They had enough money to buy a 20-acre property. She focused on discovery of novel enzymes and novel techniques for development of solid substrate fermentation technology through research and development and that took the company’s operations to a new dimension. Post this, there was no turning back. In 1987, Narayan Vaghul of ICICI ventures supported creation of a venture capital fund of USD 250,000. In 1989, they became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technology.
In 2004, Biocon went for an IPO which was oversubscribed 33 times. This was advised to her by Infosys head honcho Narayan Murthy. It was the second Indian company to cross the 1 billion mark on the first day of listing. This raised capital helped her in creation of affordable innovation. They focused on cost-effective techniques and low-cost alternatives for drugs too.
Apart from Biocon, Mazumdar Shaw has been involved with several philanthropic activities. She has a CSR wing called Biocoin Foundation that focuses on health, education and infrastructure in rural areas. She supports the Arogya Raksha Yojana and also established Mazumdar Shaw Cancer Centre in Bangalore. Quite a journey for an entrepreneur who began her journey as a trainee and is now the 85th Most Powerful Woman in the World.