Mazumdar-Shaw completed her schooling from the city’s Bishop Cotton Girl’s High School(1968). She wanted to join medical school but instead took up biology and completed her BSc Zoology Honours course from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore University (1973). She later did her post-graduation as a brewmaster in Malting and Brewing from Ballarat College, Melbourne University (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.
She started Biocon in 1978 and spearheaded its evolution from an industrial enzymes manufacturing company to a fully integrated bio-pharmaceutical company with a well-balanced business portfolio of products and a research focus on diabetes, oncology and auto-immune diseases. She also established two subsidiaries: Syngene (1994) to provide development support services as an outsourcing firm for discovery research and Clinigene (2000) to cater to clinical development services.
Her pioneering work in the sector has earned her several awards, including the prestigious Padma Shri (1989) and the Padma Bhushan (2005) from the government of India. She was recently named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. She is on the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women and the Financial Times’ top 50 women in business list. She is also a member of the board of governors of the prestigious Indian School of Business  and Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad.
In 1978, she joined Biocon Biochemicals Limited, of Cork, Ireland as a Trainee Manager. In the same year she started Biocon in the garage of her rented house in Bangalore with a seed capital of Rs. 10,000.
Initially, she faced credibility challenges because of her youth, gender and her untested business model. Not only was funding a problem as no bank wanted to lend to her, but she also found it difficult to recruit people for her start-up. With single-minded determination she overcame these challenges only to be confronted with the technological challenges associated with trying to build a biotech business in a country facing infrastructural woes. Uninterrupted power, superior quality water, sterile labs, imported research equipment, and advanced scientific skills were not easily available in India during the time.
She is responsible for steering Biocon on a trajectory of growth and innovation over the years. Within a year of its inception, Biocon became the first Indian company to manufacture and export enzymes to USA and Europe. In 1989, Biocon became the first Indian biotech company to receive US funding for proprietary technologies. In 1990, she upgraded Biocon’s in-house research program, based on a proprietary solid substrate fermentation technology.
In the same year, she incorporated Biocon Biopharmaceuticals Private Limited to manufacture and market a select range of biotherapeutics in a joint venture with the Cuban Centre of Molecular Immunology.
In 2004, she decided to access the capital markets to develop Biocon’s pipeline of research programs. Biocon’s IPO was oversubscribed 32 times and its first day at the bourses closed with a market value of $1.11 billion, making Biocon only the second Indian company to cross the $1-billion mark on the first day of listing.
She entered into more than 2,200 high-value R&D licensing and other deals within the pharmaceuticals and bio-pharmaceutical space between 2005 and 2010 and helped Biocon expand its global footprint to emerging and developed markets through acquisitions, partnerships and in-licensing. Her belief that healthcare needs can only be met with affordable innovation has been the driving philosophy that has helped Biocon manufacture and market drugs cost-effectively.
In 2007–08, a leading US trade publication, Med Ad News, ranked Biocon as the 20th leading biotechnology companies in the world and the 7th largest biotech employer in the world. Biocon also received the 2009 BioSingapore Asia Pacific Biotechnology Award for Best Listed Company.
Today, thanks to her leadership, Biocon is building cutting-edge capabilities, global credibility and global scale in its manufacturing and marketing activities. It has Asia’s largest insulin and statin facilities also the largest perfusion-based antibody production facilities.
In 2004, she started the Biocon Foundation to conduct health and environmental programs to benefit of the economically weaker sections of society.
The Biocon Foundation's 7 ARY clinics are located where healthcare facilities are poor and they offer clinical care, generic medicines and basic tests for those who cannot afford them. Each of the clinics serves a population of 50,000 people living within a radius of 10 km. All the clinics organize regular general health checks in remote villages by bringing in physicians and doctors from network hospitals. Each year, the Foundation touches more than 300,000 lives through its holistic healthcare approach.
She helped establish a 1,400-bed cancer care center at the Narayana Health City campus at Boommasandra, Bangalore, along with Dr. Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya in 2007.
She liked the innovation model and thinking that Dr. Prasad Kaipa brought to Biocon and funded multi-year research at Indian School of Business by creating Biocon Cell for Innovation Management  as part of Center for Leadership Innovation and Change.
Mazumdar-Shaw is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Nikkei Asia Prize (2009) for Regional Growth, Express Pharmaceutical Leadership Summit Award (2009) for Dynamic Entrepreneur, the Economic Times ‘Businesswoman of the Year’ (2004), the ‘Veuve Clicquot Initiative For Economic Development For Asia, Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Life Sciences & Healthcare (2002), ‘Technology Pioneer’ recognition by World Economic Forum and The Indian Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.
She has also received the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award (2002), the ‘Business Woman of the Year’ Award from the Indian Business Leadership Award committee, CNBC-TV18 (2006), the Indian Merchants' Chamber Diamond Jubilee Endowment Trust's‘Eminent Businessperson of the Year Award’(2006) and the ‘Corporate Leadership Award’ by the American India Foundation (2005).
She also received an honorary Doctorate of Science in 2004, from her alma mater, Ballarat University, in recognition of her contributions to biotechnology, apart from being awarded honorary doctorates from University of Abertay, Dundee, UK (2007), University of Glasgow, UK (2008) and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, UK (2008).
She was ranked 80 on the worlds-100-most-powerful-women-2012 according to Forbes Magazine