“To know even one life breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded”.– Emmerson
Dr Sujata Malik, a passionate leader successfully transforming patients and care-givers’ lives by leading the female-dominated 2017 founded Sunburst Healthcare, admits sourcing motivation throughout her career from the above quote.
“When our patients and their families share how we solved a seemingly insurmountable problem for them, in the most efficient and empathetic way possible, it motivates me to work,” the visionary asserted. As Sujata navigated through the three-decade-long career in the hospital industry, she realised how India, as a country, is in a desperate need for a healthcare model which seamlessly aligns the scarce healthcare resources and infrastructure with users of healthcare, efficiently and effectively.
Due to her deep insight into the industry, she noticed the norm of patients overstaying in private and government hospitals. The leader understood the need to optimally utilise the healthcare resources. Today, Sujata has successfully created a space for herself in the inspirational woman leaders list with Sunburst Healthcare Pvt. Ltd, an incredible platform in her own right. A robust home healthcare system with the power to make healthcare drastically affordable and accessible by offering continuity of care from hospital to home.
Possessing excellent people skills which are reflected in her robust network and connections, Sujata is producing future leaders in her team with her approachable and down to earth personality. She is instilling trust in her employees and clients and fiercely moving ahead to goals bigger than herself by continuing her constant search for new avenues of growth and advancement. The CEO Magazine had a chance to dialogue with the optimistic, ambitious, and focused natural leader Dr Sujata Malik to get an insight into her success story:
TCM: What is the change you are bringing with your brand today?
Sujata: Initially, in a traditional model, we operated offline with merely a software on a subscription basis. However, from the very inception, I was acutely aware that the only way to scale up was to adopt a robust technology.
Today Sunburst has developed customised mobile and web-based applications, which are currently in beta testing mode. Sunburst Viva, our patient-facing application, will allow customers to buy services and connect with us online. We have applications for doctors, care-givers, and administrators.
We intend to integrate our platform with remote monitoring devices, to complete the spectrum of home healthcare.
TCM: In the journey, did you deal with the challenge of acceptance? If not, what were the other challenges you overcame?
Sujata: At the inception of my entrepreneurial journey, I did attract some nay-sayers, since I was all of fifty-seven years old and had no real need to stick my neck out, after a reasonably successful healthcare career.
However, my hunger to learn new things and reach out to new vistas egged me on. There was no real challenge of acceptance, as far as I was concerned. People did wonder what I was doing in this space, but I have enjoyed learning the needs of this facet of healthcare and devising my solutions for any small challenges that I have encountered.
What are the mistakes you wish you could’ve avoided as an entrepreneur?
Sujata: Honestly, travelling the entrepreneurship route was a journey of discovery. I started with a meagre investment, and a vision to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. Any small mistakes that may have occurred, I don’t think they were significant. My mantra is to take the mistakes in my stride and move forward.
TCM: How do you differentiate yourself and your brand from the competition?
Sujata: Sunburst Healthcare stands unparallel with their work. Healthcare is a business of trust. Once people find they trust you, the multiplier effect of word-of-mouth promotion, is significant. We intend to use our technology to set us apart, in the years to come. Our hand-picked work-force along with our commitment to quality in healthcare are other attributes that will help differentiate us from other players. One cannot over-emphasize the significance of our network and alliances.
TCM: How did you build your team? How do you keep them motivated?
Sujata: The Sunburst Healthcare team boasts of a female-dominated team offering employment and opportunities to hundreds of women. As a leader, I demand discipline and dedication, but at the same time, I understand the value of family and a good work-life balance.
While the organization is always reachable and supportive at times of distress, I as a leader ensure that we indulge in employee engagement activities from time to time. Though we are a young company, we do have a policy to promote the career growth and development of our employees. Our daily discussions with the team, word of encouragement, and empathetic attitude, are what keeps our team motivated. Last but not the least, we have an emerging reward and recognition mechanism.
TCM: How did you handle adversity and doubt?
Sujata: I believe it is our experience in the ecosystem of healthcare which helped us handle any doubts and adversity better. To a large extent, it is our positive attitude, which has kept us going. We have always looked at adversities with the lens of opportunities to grow and improve.
We, at Sunburst Healthcare, are now increasing our reach by appointing franchisee partners across the country. The first in this series is our Mumbai franchisee. We intend to take this proto-type of home healthcare to many more cities in India because I firmly believe there is an immediate need. Our technology platform will help us to standardise and scale up the business. We are actively looking for funding for our venture from a credible strategic investor and partner. We hope to be in five cities by end of the year and in many others, in the next five years.
TCM: What does success look in the current role and for the company?
Sujata: Well, success for me is celebrating small achievements and milestones, and motivating the team to perform better each time. There is also a constant effort to look at new ways to improve efficiency and make our customer’s lives easier by solving their problems and healthcare-related concerns.
TCM: What are the questions you ask after each breakthrough?
Sujata: Today, the breakthroughs offer a powerful thrust to the questions like ‘what we can do better?’. No business can afford to be static and rest on its laurels. The environment is dynamic and there is a need to constantly pivot and adapt oneself to changing requirements. Successful businesses have one strong attribute, and that is agility and the ability to respond to emerging scenarios with speed and finesse.
TCM: If you were to answer a young female executive’s question of ‘How can I be a good leader?’, what would you advise?
Sujata: I would advise listening carefully to what the customer is saying, and tailor the product or service to address the customer’s requirement. Keeping calm, being practical, and enhancing your network are also significant attributes of a good leader. It is also very important to have a robust organisation and lead by example.
TCM: Do you believe in giving back to society, if yes, how?
Sujata: Indeed, like everyone else who has had a fairly fulfilling career, I would like to give back to society. Currently, I am contributing by establishing and running a healthcare system of value. We will be conducting outreach programmes for patients with lifestyle diseases. I would like to work with government agencies on a telehealth facility for rural India.
Sujata concluded the interview with a relatable quote, she said, “It is not about achieving perfection, it is about the effort. And when you bring that effort every single day, that’s when transformation happens. That’s how change occurs.”