Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (born 23 March 1953) is an Indian billionaire entrepreneur. She is the chairperson and managing director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India and the former chairperson of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. In 2014, she was awarded the Othmer Gold Medal for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry. She is on the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list. In 2019, she is listed as the 65th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. She was named EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020.

Early life and education

Kiran Mazumdar was born on 23 March 1953 in Pune, Maharashtra state, to Gujarati parents. She was educated at Bangalore’s Bishop Cotton Girl’s High School, graduating in 1968. She then attended Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, a women’s college offering pre-university courses as an affiliate of Bangalore University. She studied biology and zoology, graduating from Bangalore University with a bachelor’s degree in zoology in 1973. Mazumdar hoped to go to medical school, but was not able to obtain a scholarship.

Her father, Rasendra Mazumdar, was the head brewmaster at United Breweries. He suggested that she study fermentation science, and train to be a brewmaster, a very non-traditional field for women. Mazumdar went to Ballarat College, Melbourne University in Australia to study malting and brewing. In 1974, she was the only woman enrolled in the brewing course and topped in her class. She earned the degree as master brewer in 1975.

She worked as a trainee brewer in Carlton and United Breweries, Melbourne and as a trainee maltster at Barrett Brothers and Burston, Australia. She also worked for some time as a technical consultant at Jupiter Breweries Limited, Calcutta and as a technical manager at Standard Maltings Corporation, Baroda between 1975 and 1977. However, when she investigated the possibility of advancing her career in Bangalore or Delhi, she was told that she could not be hired as a master brewer in India because “It’s a man’s work.” began to look abroad for opportunities and was offered a position in Scotland.

Board memberships

Mazumdar-Shaw is a member of the board of governors of the Indian School of Business, a term member on the board of MIT, USA till 2023, and a past member of the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.

As of February 2014, Mazumdar-Shaw became the first woman to head the board of governors of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB).

She is an independent director on the board of Infosys. She is also a member of the General Body of Maharashtra State Innovation Society. She is also a member of the advisory board of the MIT Jameel Clinic.

Awards and honours

As of 2010, Mazumdar-Shaw was named among TIME magazine‘s 100 most influential people in the world. She is on the 2011 Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list. As of 2014, she was listed as the 92nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. In 2015, she had risen to 85th in the Forbes ranking. She was voted global Indian of the year by Pharma Leaders Magazine in 2012.

She was placed #14th in the Hurun India Philanthropy List 2019 for a donation of ₹72 crore (US$10 million) and was ranked #2 in the list of Women Philanthropist of 2019, by the Hurun Report India Philanthropy List 2019.

International awards

Mazumdar-Shaw is the recipient of several international awards including the Othmer Gold Medal (2014) for outstanding contributions to the progress of science and chemistry, the Nikkei Asia Prize (2009) for regional growth, the ‘Veuve Clicquot Initiative For Economic Development For Asia’ Award (2007), Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Life Sciences & Healthcare (2002), and ‘Technology Pioneer’ recognition by World Economic Forum (2002). In May 2015 Federation University Australia (formerly the University of Ballarat) named a road in its Mt Helen campus as Mazumdar Drive. Kiran and Shaw attended the opening ceremony. She was elected as a member of the United States National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in 2019 for development of affordable biopharmaceuticals and the biotechnology industry in India. She is the first Indian woman to get this honor. In January 2020, Kiran became the fourth Indian citizen to be honoured with Australia’s highest civilian honour.

Indian awards

Her work in the biotechnology sector has earned her numerous national awards, including the Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005) from the government of India. She was given the Economic Times Award for ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ in 2004. At the Pharmaleaders Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit she was named “Global Indian Woman of the Year” (2012); she also received the Express Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit Award for “Dynamic Entrepreneur” in 2009. The Indian Merchants’ Chamber Diamond Jubilee Endowment Trust’s Eminent Businessperson of the Year Award was presented to Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw in 2006 by the Governor of MaharashtraS. M. Krishna. She has also received the Indian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award (2005), the ‘Corporate Leadership Award’ by the American India Foundation (2005). and the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (2002).

Honorary degrees

Mazumdar-Shaw received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Ballarat University in 2004, in recognition of her contributions to biotechnology. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Abertay, Dundee, UK (2007), the University of Glasgow, UK (2008), Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK (2008) and University College Cork, Ireland (2012). She received an honorary doctorate from Davangere University, India, at its first convocation, July 2013, in recognition of her contribution in the field of biotechnology.