Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wanted to be a brewmaster before building the largest biotech company in India

Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wanted to be a brewmaster before building the largest biotech company in India
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, founder of BioconTwitter India

  • Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw wanted to be a brewmaster before entering pharmaceuticals.
  • In an interview with Twitter India, Shaw said the idea for Biocon was created ‘on a rebound’ after getting pushed out of the brewing industry.
  • Despite breaking myths about women in daring businesses, she said, "The world still doesn’t get it."
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw is India’s richest self-made woman in India with a net worth of $3.2 billion. But before she founded Biocon, she wanted to be a brewmaster — a person who supervises the brewing process of malt liquors.

"I trained to be a brewmaster, but that was not to be because the brewing industry is quite a male bastion. They just couldn’t hire a woman," she said in an interview with Twitter India celebrating International Women's Day

It was only after getting pushed out from the brewing industry that Shaw decided to go into pharmaceuticals instead in 1978. "I guess it was on a rebound, that I took up the opportunity to start my own biotech company," said Shaw.

Even then, it wasn’t an easy journey. Banks weren’t ready to lend money to someone to start a business in a sector that was still in its nascent stages. It — so it took some time before people took the company, and its founder, seriously.


"I think it was a very tough time for me initially because I have to overcome that credibility challenge of being a young girl who no-one took seriously," said Shaw.

The world still doesn’t get it — but it’s getting better
Biocon entered the US market and soon became the first company in the world to gain approval from the USFDA for two biosimilars used in cancer treatments.

Now, not only is Shaw the richest woman in India, she is the 54th richest person in India overall, according to Forbes.

"It’s a myth to think that women are not bold enough to run daring businesses. It’s a myth that all of us have busted over time. So, I’m really surprised that the world still doesn’t get it," she told Twitter.

However, she holds out hope for the future. "What I’m heartened by is that women are getting stronger and more vociferous and more articulate about what they believe in. It’s an endurance game. You’ve got to tell your story well, and don’t give up. Keep going with what you’ve started off with because that commitment and conviction will finally get you to where you want to be," she added.

See also:
Women’s day in numbers: 9 grim reminders that Indian women are still a long way off from empowerment

Remembering Bumble’s brand journey before International Women’s Day