Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, an Indian billionaire entrepreneur, is a role model for many young men and women. It is inspiring how Kiran Mazumdar smashed patriarchal social norms to set up one of the most successful biotechnology companies in the world.
Kiran has been the chairperson and managing director of Biocon Limited, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, India, and the former chairperson of the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore.
Recently, for her extraordinary entrepreneurial skills, Biocon founder and chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, has been named EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2020. Mazumdar-Shaw is the third Indian to win the EY World Entrepreneur of the year award after NR Narayana Murthy and Uday Kotak. She is also only the second woman to hold this title worldwide.
During such a proud moment, Mazumdar-Shaw shared an inspiring message for aspiring women leaders and entrepreneurs. She said:
‘You have to work like your life depends on it. You cannot say, let me give it a shot.’
She further added how her 89-year-old mom still runs her own business:
“I celebrated by having a drink with my mom at 1:30 am. She is 89-years old and runs her own business. She still insists on going to work,”
Sharing her own struggles as a young entrepreneur, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw spoke to ET NOW about how her credibility was questioned when she started up Biocon in the late 70s.
“I had huge credibility perception issues. Banks didn’t want to lend to me. I also had to build that credibility and treat it like my life depended on it. It took me many months to get a loan. My first 2 employees were retired tractor mechanics because college graduates didn’t want to work for me then,”
She added that in order to stay the course and not drop off, it is important to be very committed and passionate about one’s career or business.
“You cannot have the attitude of ‘let me give it a shot’. 100% commitment to a career is non-negotiable. You have to work like your whole livelihood depends on it. Most women try to do a job or have a family. A man doesn’t do that. It’s not about how you are seen but about how you see yourself,”
When asked about who she sees as her mentor, Mazumdar-Shaw said it was veteran banker and former ICICI Bank chairman, N Vaghul.
“My mentor is Mr Vaghul. I used to talk to him and have frank discussions. When I was struggling to raise money to scale up my enzyme technology, he supported me.”
Venture Capital financing had just started in India in the late 80s, with the formation of the TDICI or the Technology Development and Information Company of India Ltd, which was promoted by ICICI and UTI.
“They invested Rs 1.5 crore and made 4 times that return,”
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and hope her inspiring words will motivate many women to turn their dream into reality.