Manisha Kumar: A Passionate Leader with a Higher Purpose in the Healthcare Industry

Manisha Kumar

Having spent the last one and half decades in the Healthcare industry, Manisha has led and managed clinical and non-clinical teams in large hospital groups. She is currently the Regional Chief Operating Officer of Healthcare Global Enterprises Ltd, leading their largest hospitals and business units including their flagship. Manisha was previously heading the largest Columbia Asia hospital (now Manipal) in Asia which she had the opportunity to commission from scratch and launch in 2017 and turned it profitable in less than a year; prior to that she was managing the largest flagship hospital of Max Healthcare in New Delhi. Majority of Manisha’s experience has been in senior leadership positions driving Business Growth, Strategy & Profitability – her focus has always been on having strong result orientation and managing diverse teams to innovate solutions & create win-win partnerships. For her efforts leading the COVID pandemic management, Manisha was awarded the “Global Women Leader Award” and was ranked in Business World magazine’s 40 Under 40.

HCG Oncology aims to deliver clinical excellence coupled with the latest innovative technology and precision medicine to treat cancer. Manisha’s role in the company so far has been to steer the organization forward in increasing its reach and access to many more patients in India and outside and to enable growth and expansion.

Fostering a Healthy Environment

Manisha says “As a business leader of hospitals, one needs to not only have laser-sharp focus to run a successful business with a healthy bottom line, but also be able to draw a fine balance between managing people from clinical and non-clinical domains while keeping an eye on the quality of patient care is delivered.” Being an MBA from ISB Hyderabad and an Engineer by graduation – joining healthcare, especially hospitals, was an unconventional career choice at that time for Manisha. Her first healthcare stint at MAX was where she climbed the steep learning curve rather fast – aside from learning the technicalities of her workplace and the nitty-gritty of running a hospital, there was a slower but more intense and fruitful learning curve toward becoming more receptive, adaptive and resilient. Most of these acquired traits helped Manisha succeed throughout especially concerning multi-stakeholder management, conflict resolutions, and managing diverse teams of people. Commissioning and launching the Super Specialty Hospital for Columbia Asia (Manipal Hospitals) was a turning point for her. It involved a lot of timely planning and strategizing, diligent team management, rolling up the sleeves and working in the trenches alongside the team, and most importantly – tons of hard work! The COVID pandemic then put the company through unprecedented testing times where it had to face unforeseen challenges that made Manisha think outside the box and improvise real-time solutions. Her key focus throughout the pandemic, besides arranging for resources and formulation of dynamic protocols, was to keep the people on the ground motivated so that they can keep treating patients with dedication and a positive attitude. At a personal level, Manisha conceived at the same time while managing the Covid pandemic. She worked hard to maintain a healthy work-life integration throughout her pregnancy because compartmentalizing work from personal life was not realistic during the pandemic management. She worked hard to keep calm through all the chaos to be able to pragmatically lead her team while managing her schedule to find time to disengage and relax. Manisha’s journey with HCG Oncology in the last 18 months has also been quite spectacular – driving a massive business growth in a steady business wasn’t easy but she was able to achieve it on the back of all her learnings, efficient team-management, and a ‘never give up’ attitude.

Sharing Good Affluence with Others

Manisha articulates that “in healthcare, we need leaders who can help to raise awareness of important issues and champion innovative ideas while inspiring others to be a part of the overall process. As a leader, it is most important to define clear goals, set processes, and get all the teams together to work on achieving those goals. This requires vision, deft people management, and an ability to lead by example.” In her work throughout it has been imperative to align her teams behind their common goal and timelines and to work in the trenches with them many a time to keep them motivated. Open-mindedness and a learning attitude are two important traits of a good leader too as a one-size-fits-all approach seldom works in healthcare and leaders need to employ flexibility in addressing complex situations. Throughout the covid pandemic management, Manisha and her team learned every day and made every second day more fruitful and successful using that learning. Everyone adapted to whatever resources were available at their disposal and found solutions to treat patients. “Finally, healthcare leaders need to challenge the status quo and be innovative. The healthcare industry has been on the path of transformation for the last decade and still has a long way to go in terms of adopting technology and integrating it with care delivery systems. A true leader will recognize the need for innovation, adopt new systems and processes and get the entire team to follow the same.”

A Hopeful Future Ahead

Innovative technology and a focus on personalized care will largely shape the healthcare delivery space in the time to come. HCG Oncology already using a precision medicine approach to treat many cancer patients – by offering customized multi-disciplinary treatments created basis patients’ genetic makeups and personal histories. Targeted therapies, AI-enabled diagnostic tools for precise and timely diagnosis, cell-based therapies, Robotic onco-surgeries, and adaptive radiotherapy to treat tumours, are a few advancements already being used by the company.

Healthcare in the future will be more personalized, disrupted by technology, and will be driven by patient centricity and data interoperability that will help people identify diseases earlier, intervene proactively, and better manage their disease progression. A lot of tech-enabled solutions for virtual health, telemedicine, digital pathology, teleradiology, AI-enabled diagnostics, and mixed reality are already existed and being used by providers today which will only grow and get more structured, organized, and refined going forward.

Advice for the Budding Women Leaders

Women leaders must push the boundaries of stereotypes, cliché, and biases and take up challenges head-on, Manisha asserts. Many women struggle with networking at the workplace and may lose out on opportunities for learning and growth because of this. Women need to increase their visibility, be willing to step out of the box and speak up to ‘own their place’ at the table. One of the first steps to becoming a C-suite executive is not aspiring to be one – to aspire for the journey rather than the title – to focus on how to excel and thus progress.

Organizations can begin by making gender equity a priority for hiring across all ranks and cadres. This will challenge and gradually erase any unconscious biases existing in the system. Companies should also have policies and programs that ensure a positive, safe, and fair working environment for women. And equally so should try to create a community of women leaders inside the organization that can mentor and be role models for all other aspiring female employees looking to succeed in their careers.

Quote: “Healthcare in the future will be more personalized, disrupted by technology, will be driven by patient centricity and data interoperability that will help people identify diseases earlier, intervene proactively, and better manage their disease progression.”

Management: Manisha Kumar, Regional Chief Operating Officer


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