The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of a stable healthcare system. The efforts of the healthcare providers, the supporting staff, administration and management are helping India fight the battle against Coronavirus. With this, it became even more imperative to set superlative standards of medical care for a hospital to function smoothly. Providing everything from life-saving medicines, surgeries and treatments to aiding anyone and everyone in need of medical attention are what hospitals stand for. While the healthcare sector is largely dominated by men, there are women leaders and entrepreneurs making a mark with their hard work and success. While most hospitals are focusing on advanced expensive treatments, Pratika Singh is undertaking healthcare initiatives and working towards women empowerment and public welfare issues.

In conversation with TC46, Prayag Hospital & Research Center’s CEO Prakrita Singh shares her passion for health and public welfare, her journey of becoming a CEO at the age of 23, expanding business in a highly competitive market and the need to take care of the staff to see great results.

1. What is your educational and professional background?

I’ve done my Bachelor of Science in Business Management Studies. Then I did my Post Graduate Diploma in Global Marketing from Regents University, London, and a diploma in Marketing from London School of Economics.

2. How does Prayag Hospital’s corporate culture reflect the strong female leadership that helms the company?

Honestly, we, at Prayag, do not follow a 100% corporate culture. We follow a mix of Indian working style and corporate culture. We believe in giving a personal touch to our employees and customers, we keep things very transparent with our staff and our customers.

3. As CEO, what’s your advice for women who are trying to rise to the top in healthcare?

As a CEO, my advice to women would be that excuses and family responsibilities will keep coming up but don’t compromise on your dreams and be committed. The way women are committed towards their friends, family, kids, parents, they should be committed to their goals and aims in the same way. You should know how to balance both of them.

4. What’s it like to run a chain of hospitals at such a young age?

To all the women who are trying to rise high, I would strongly say that don’t think you’re competing with men. Women have some unique powers and abilities that nature has given them. Similarly, there are qualities that men have and women don’t. So you should not compare yourself and you should always embrace your own femininity while you’re rising high. The most important thing is to be committed and be compassionate about what you’re doing. I feel privileged in running a chain of hospitals. I am grateful to my parents and to my staff who believe in me. When I am working, I don’t feel as if I am running a chain of hospitals, I see myself as giving back to my society in terms of the very transparent healthcare services that we provide.

5. Did you always know you wanted to work in this space?

Yes, I always knew that I wanted to work in my family business. My parents started the business and I was looking forward to expanding it more. I was always clear about my goal. I always wanted to work in the healthcare industry with an aim to set up a chain of hospitals where people can walk up to with confidence that this hospital is not an institution of expense.

6. What was your first milestone and how did you get there?

My first milestone was to win over my company’s old employees. When you work in your family business and your parents are heading the business for the past 15-20 years and suddenly you join the business, people who are working with your parents take their time to accept you. So, acceptability was a big challenge that I faced. It took me 5 years to make people believe that I am just as fit to lead as my parents. A lot of people thought that I am new and a young girl who studied abroad. They thought that I didn’t know anything about the industry and questioned whether I would be able to handle it. “Why should we listen to her advice?”, was one of many questions. So, I consider this acceptance as my first milestone. Here, my staff was with me and when your staff is with you, you achieve greater heights. 

7. What were the 3 best business/financial decisions you made?

The first decision we took was that we will not follow 100% of the corporate culture, because it literally divides the customers and us. Every customer coming to us is not part of the corporate world, so we follow a mix of Indian working style and corporate culture.

Secondly, when I joined the business our company tagline and logo was not connected with the business. I changed the tagline to ‘Seva Parmo Dharam’, so it connects more with the organisation and the company.

Lastly, we decided to do 80% of our business through the government. The government empanelled our hospitals where a customer walks in with a lot of confidence, the customer doesn’t have to pay anything, the complete expenditure is being paid by the government. So, this was one of the best decisions we made years ago.

8. How do you intend to scale up/expand your business in the next 5 years?

In the next 5 years, we have plans to expand our hospitals in the east and west of Uttar Pradesh. We plan on not only coming up with allopathy hospitals but also naturopathy and Ayurvedic hospitals

9. What were some realisations from a healthcare point of view that have come to light since the pandemic?

After the pandemic, I had a big realisation that I had to take care of my staff in a very tracked manner. Be it a security guard, housekeeping, GDA, nurses, doctors or even the administrative staff, I need to take care of everyone. In the end, your staff works for you, and you have to keep your staff happy. Giving them a high salary should not be the only agenda. Giving them a sense of good health, mental peace and keeping a track of their good health is equally important.

10. What are your plans for expansion and growth for the Prayag group of hospitals?

We are on our way to expand the group as we are coming up with more hospitals in Uttar Pradesh. Our target is not only to increase the number of businesses but to also have 10-15 thousand employees in the upcoming years working for Prayag group of hospitals and creating more employment.

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