Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, India’s First Self-Made Woman Billionaire

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, India’s first self-made woman billionaire and the CEO of Biocon, is an inspiration to many. Her company uses scientific talent in India to make breakthroughs in clinical research. But did you know she couldn’t get into medical college because she couldn’t afford it? Did you know she was refused jobs because she was walking on an untrodden path to becoming a brewmaster like her father? Way before she became famous, she was already shaking up traditions by opening her own company in a shed. If you want to know more about this first generation entrepreneur, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and her life, this blog is for you!    

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Personal Life

Kiran Mazumdar was born in Pune, Maharashtra in a Gujarati family on 23rd March 1953. She studied biology and zoology and wanted to go to medical school but could not obtain a scholarship. She faced challenges like discrimination because of her gender, infrastructural, technological and financial problems and many more in her business initiative when she started. She initially started by setting up her business in a shed with a retired garage mechanic as her first employee.

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Image Source: Business Standard

Within a year of its inception, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw’s Biocon manufactured enzymes and export them to the U.S. and Europe. It was the first Indian company to do so. From there, she never looked back and spearheaded Biocon’s successful evolution from an industrial enzymes manufacturing company to a fully functional and efficient Bio-Pharmaceutical company with 2 subsidiaries- Syngene and Clingene, which was later merged with Syngene. After marrying her husband John Shaw, the chairperson at Madura Coats, she became Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, and he became the vice-chairman of Biocon.

Source: YouTube


A young Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps wanted to become a brewmaster. She enrolled at Melbourne University in Australia and topped her class in which she was the only woman. She came back and tried, but India is an unforgiving place for young women trying to shatter the boundaries and shake up the traditions. She was refused to be given the job of a master brewer in India since it was considered a “man’s job” Leslie Auchincloss, the Biocon Biochemicals Limited founder, Kiran Mazumdar’s joint venture, may have given her an opportunity. Still, her journey is her own, and she has her achievements to prove her resilience. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has many degrees to her name, and given below is a list of all her accolades-

  • BSc. (Zoology Hons.), Bangalore University
  • Post-Graduate Diploma, Malting and Brewing, Ballarat Institute of Advanced Education, Melbourne, Australia
  • Honorary Doctorates from several prestigious universities, including:
Source: YouTube


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw has many honours to her name. Her awards and achievements tell us the tale of a hardworking and dedicated woman. She is truly a beacon of hope and inspiration, being the epitome of excellence in her field.

Image Source: Makers India
  • Recipient of Padma Shri (1989), Padma Bhushan (2005)
  • Recipient of EY World Entrepreneur of the Year (2020) and EY Entrepreneur of the Year India Award (2019)
  • Recipient of Order of Australia (2020)
  • Recipient of ICMR’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Achievement in Healthcare (2019)
  • Recipient of AWSM Award for Excellence (2017)
  • Knight of the National Order of the French Legion of Honour (2016)
  • Recipient of Othmer Gold Medal (2014)
  • Recipient of Global Economy Prize for Business (2014)

“My legacy is going to be in affordable health care. I am willing to invest in developing that model and the policies around it.”

Her Leadership Style

Hailed as “India’s richest self-made woman” and the Founder of “India’s largest listed biopharmaceutical firm” with a net worth of $4 Billion by Forbes, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is a force of nature to be reckoned with. She seems to prefer the term “Compassionate Capitalism” to philanthropy and believes that it can provide an ongoing foundation for sustainable social progress with lasting effects if the business is applied properly. Her belief in “Affordable innovation” is the driving philosophy behind Biocon’s work and expansion. This philosophy reflects in her philanthropic initiatives like The Mazumdar Shaw Medical Centre, which aims to create a sustainable, affordable cancer care model, public health campaign like “Queen of Heart”. It educates people about health issues and problems like cardiovascular disease, Arogya Raksha Yojana which is a disease protection program. Her company is also in the process of making a vaccine of covid – 19. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is also the second Indian after Azim Premji to become part of Bill Gates, the “Giving Pledge Initiative”. And these are only a few of the numerous health and education outreach programs she initiated for the benefit of the weaker sections of Indian society.

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Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is the epitome of a compassionate human being with a determined mind who has worked hard to reach where she is today and is working harder to give back to society and the world. The world will become a better place with more people like her. To read more inspiring stories of women all over the world, check out Leverage Edu. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Quora

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