Mazumdar-Shaw is founder, chair, and managing director of Biocon, a biotechnology company based in Bangalore, and the current chair of the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore. When she could not obtain a scholarship to medical school, Mazumdar-Shaw followed in her father's footsteps and trained as a master brewer. She was about to take a job in Scotland when she was recruited by the Irish firm Biocon Biochemicals to launch a joint venture in India, which she subsequently transformed from an industrial enzymes manufacturer into a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company. Now the richest woman in India, Mazumdar-Shaw has focused her philanthropy — although she prefers the term "compassionate capitalist" to "philanthropist" — on healthcare access for the poor, education, and infrastructure.
"I have been giving away half of my income towards philanthropy on an annual basis," Mazumdar-Shaw wrote in her pledge letter. "I believe innovation and commerce are as powerful for driving technological advancement as they are for creating social progress....I would like to be remembered as someone who made a difference to global healthcare through affordable innovation."
Scientist, clinician, and entrepreneur Herbert Wertheim and his wife, Nicole, also signed on recently, bringing the total number of signatories to the Giving Pledge, which was launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010, to a hundred and forty-one individuals and couples. The founder and CEO of Brain Power Incorporated, the world's largest manufacturer of ophthalmic instruments and chemicals, Wertheim has made significant gifts to Florida International University and the University of Florida through the Dr. Herbert & Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation.