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BW Businessworld

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw: Destiny Has Its Own Plans

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw aspired to become a doctor. But destiny had other plans for her and she became an entrepreneur

Photo Credit : Subhabrata Das


Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw's journey into the world of entrepreneurship in the late '70's reminds one of the famous lines from a Robert Frost poem 'The Road Not Taken'. 'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-. I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.'

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw aspired to become a doctor. But destiny had other plans for her and she became an entrepreneur. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A pioneer of the biotechnology industry in India, Mazumdar-Shaw carved a name for herself in the Indian entrepreneurial ecosystem at a time and age when career was not very important to Indian women.

Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon in 1978, where she holds the position of chairman and managing director. The initial steps were not easy. She was all of 25 and had a seed capital of just Rs 10,000. Banks too were hesitant in giving her loan as they were not too familiar with the sector that she was foraying in. Biotechnology had not emerged then. Besides, she was a 'woman'.

So, how did she wade through the challenges? Mazumdar-Shaw stuck to her grit, followed her instincts and chased a vision she set for herself in a non-traditional sector. A Zoology graduate from Bangalore University in 1973, she earned a master's degree in malting and brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University, thereby qualifying as a master brewer. While Mazumdar-Shaw spent the initial years working as a trainee brewer, she soon found her calling in entrepreneurship.

Today, Biocon is the country's leading biotechnology enterprise that focuses on affordable innovation to find solutions that heal the world. Over the years, the company has invested significantly to make a range of generics to treat chronic ailments such as diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases. Biocon develops, manufactures and supplies advanced, life-saving biopharmaceuticals at price points that make them affordable and accessible.

Talking about diabetes alone, Biocon is the fourth largest insulin producer in the world. It is in fact expanding its capacity by setting up Asia's largest integrated insulins manufacturing and R&D facility in Malaysia to address the global need for biosimilar Insulins.