Interview with Anil Mohanty, Head of People and Culture at Medikabazaar, a leading Medical and HealthTech procurement platform

Interview with Anil Mohanty, Head of People and Culture at Medikabazaar, a leading Medical and HealthTech procurement platform
Anil Mohanty, Head of People and Culture at Medikabazaar

With the mission of making innovative and quality healthcare accessible, affordable and available to everyone, Vivek Tiwari (Founder and CEO) started Medikabazaar in 2015. Today, Medikabazaar is a health-tech leader which is committed to making a difference in every aspect of Indian healthcare by simplifying medical supplies procurement, bridging the urban-rural gap, to innovating solutions to help predict demand in hospitals. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, the team at Medikabazaar has been dedicatedly working to ensure Tier II and Tier III cities get easy delivery of medical supplies.

Anil Mohanty, a leader who believes in collaborating across stakeholders including leadership and business partners to identify development prerequisites took up the challenge to head HR at Medikabazaar. Having 25 years of experience in Human Resource Management, he believes in driving HR initiatives to realize bottom-line results and enhance employee engagement in the pursuit of organizational objectives. His forte lies in building large and multi-cultural teams, implementing HR transformation and optimizing HR policies to drive synergies and people policies and processes to support continuous growth.

In an exclusive email interaction with MotivergeAnil Mohanty, Head of People and Culture, Medikabazaar tells us more about the brand’s vision, journey so far, team, motivation, future plans and more.

Below are the excerpts from the interview:

What is Medikabazaar all about? Tell us about the founding team’s vision and the idea behind it.

The cost of healthcare has always made access to quality treatment difficult. Outside metro cities, patients in Tier-II, III and IV towns and rural areas have historically had to travel, and often uproot themselves from their lives to seek better treatment for ailments. Improving Indian healthcare by making it accessible and affordable was the key driving factor for our founding team. 

With a firm belief that effective utilization of technology can be a game changer, Medikabazaar’s Founder & CEO Vivek Tiwari and his team built a digital platform that would put all the sellers, manufacturers as well as the hospitals and clinics on one platform. This way there would be a clear understanding of demand and supply, which can have a meaningful impact in driving availability, accessibility and affordability of healthcare in India. 

Medical supplies have always been a problem due to non-availability of last mile vendors and/or reliable suppliers in tier II and III cities. As a result of this, hospitals and medical institutions end up falling prey to the unorganized and inefficient procurement system in the medical fraternity. These identified problems resulted into an idea which could solve all these complex operational issues with technology.

How has been your journey so far? 

My journey so far has been like a Himalayan car rally full of bumpy roads, interesting, thrilling and challenging. As a start-up, we want to build an enterprise for which we need to build robust systems, re-engineering various processes and policies and while doing so we have to be very careful and sensitive towards legacy systems and at the same time implement scalable employee friendly processes keeping the organization’s objectives in mind. In the process you come across many hurdles, obstructions, however you have to focus on changes which will bring larger impact on the business. During a culture renovation, you stress the importance of identifying the influencers, energizers, and blockers.

How is Medikabazaar transforming the Medical and Health equipment procurement for consumers?

Medikabazaar empowers medical institutions to deal with the complex problem of procurement and regular purchases including supply chain and logistics planning. Medikabazaar is a complete ecosystem of medical supplies addressing the major challenges in awareness, availability, accessibility and affordability. 

Right from helping establishments with their procurement with our Marketplace, to helping them cut down operating costs and supply chain inefficiencies with VPO and eliminating stockout situations with VIZI, our patented AI-ML powered inventory management system, Medikabazaar is emerging as a complete Health-Tech platform. We are also facilitating last-mile deliveries to far-off centres with our logistics fleet – MBGO, alongside providing comprehensive asset management, recycling and care services for medical equipment with MBARC, and we make financing easy for those setting up medical businesses with our smart, tailor-made flexible payment solutions like No-Cost EMIs, Revolving Credit with MB-Freedom. 

What is the USP of your brand? How is Medikabazaar planning to penetrate the untapped healthtech market in India? 

Being a digital-first brand has been very helpful to us because we’ve witnessed a massive surge in website traffic in the last two years when getting out of the house became a luxury during the pandemic. We more than tripled our daily active user count and the site visits translated into orders as a massive number of orders came in online without any physical or telephonic intervention from our representatives. And we see this journey continuing into the future as well, because we continued to sustain the traffic even after lockdowns were lifted and businesses opened up. 

Along with solidifying the health infrastructure in smaller centres by helping setting up diagnostics, dialysis centres, dental clinics and improving imaging and testing capabilities in these towns, we are also looking to expand our existing operations in international markets like the Middle-East, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Africa. 

The biggest USP of Medikabazaar is that we are the largest aggregators of medical equipment in India at the moment. A typical 100-bed hospital today works with 800-900 vendors, but when they approach Medikabazaar, they come to a consolidated single-point platform. Of every Rs 100 that hospitals spend, Rs 35-40 are spent on medical supplies, which is the second-largest expenditure after staff salaries, in their Total Cost of Operations (TCO). Medikabazaar makes sure they save around 30% per cent on procurement cost. By bringing down the operating costs for medical establishments, we aim to reduce the cost of healthcare for the end users as well. 

What steps did Medikabazaar take to fight the pandemic? How did you manage your team during the COVID-19 Outbreak?

The arrival of the novel coronavirus saw the world come to a standstill as businesses also struggled to find a way to serve their customers. But Medikabazaar could never sit back, and we continued to deliver excellence with innovative solutions like the Covid Combat Collaboration Program, that solved demand-supply problems for all health supplies caused by an immediate demand for Personal & Premise Protection Equipment, and we stepped up to help India breathe freely once again by procuring, delivering and installing over 10,000 Oxygen Concentrators and oxygen supply systems across government organizations, corporates and hospital chains. With Corporate Vaccination Programs, we helped fasten India’s attempt at inoculating its expansive population, and now to prepare healthcare centres for future endemics, calamities and pandemics, Medikabazaar’s ICU packages are helping to solidify the country’s intensive care facilities. 

To manage our team during the pandemic, along with a Work From Home policy to allow our employees to be closer to their family and safeguard themselves from the aggressive spread of COVID-19, we also introduced a Covid allowance where employees infected by the virus could avail monetary compensation in cases of hospitalisation and any other complications arising from it. To take care of their overall wellbeing, we regularly organised one-on-one interactions with our employees to better understand their situation while working from home; we also organised wellness seminars with nutrionists, fitness and mental health experts to help them take care of themselves, and their families.  

We also organized vaccination drives for our employees and their family members to ensure their safety and wellbeing against the virus.  

What are your views on Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace? 

I’m a strong advocate of Diversity and Inclusion, not only in the workplace but in all parts of life. I’m against any kind of bias while shortlisting candidates or finalising them. It should be based on skills and competencies rather than a candidate’s gender, class background, or caste. When I say workplace, I mean starting from hiring to entering into boardroom, everything should be based on the individual’s merit, skills and competencies, and nothing else. Everyone should be treated equally. 

Tell us about your motivation. What keeps you going? 

Doing something good for the employees and utilizing all my learnings in making the organization to move to the next level is what motivates me. HR has the potential to transform a company’s culture into one based on agility, resilience, and innovation, and that is one of our major driving forces at Medikabazaar. 

How important is it to get the employee and their family members vaccinated? How did it impact the workplace environment? 

The COVID-19 vaccine is intended to provide acquired immunity against COVID-19. Hence it’s extremely critical to be fully vaccinated as a family to safeguard against this virus. It was crucial for us to get our employees inoculated in order to protect them and their families from a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Having said that, vaccination may not guarantee that one will not get infected, however the risk is minimal. Once all are vaccinated, the workplace will be considerably safer and this will help build a lot of confidence among the team members in various departments, especially those in customer-facing situations. 

What do you think are the major HR challenges that startups & conglomerates are facing today? 

I believe if there’s no challenge, then there is no fun and no excitement. One of the biggest challenges that startups and conglomerates are facing is attracting quality talent, and sustaining and retaining them.  

Various market reports suggest that employee upskilling & reskilling is the need of the hour as emerging technologies like AI/ML are all set to revolutionize the HR industry. What is your take on this? 

The Tech world is extremely dynamic and to keep up with it, we all need to upskill and reskill ourselves continuously. I believe application of smart technologies can yield tremendous results. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and deep learning can help automate routine HR tasks, deliver personalized experiences, and gain actionable insights from the HR data. However, they cannot replace the Human element of HR which is essential in building the company culture. 

Where do you see Medikabazaar in upcoming 3 to 5 years? 

Every business wants to adopt technology to scale higher and higher and all the communication today is built around adopting new technology. While we already have a tool (VIZI) for hospitals that enhances decision-making effectiveness within hospitals for their smart procurement. We also work directly with a lot of manufacturers within India and around the globe. 

In the upcoming 3 to 5 years, Medikabazaar will be deploying latest technology solutions like robots at warehouses to next-gen voice enabled chatbot for easy customer interface. We are also working on the wearable devices segment in a big way and this category will play a big role in holistic healthcare development. We are working on developing products that can monitor post-hospitalisation of patients. We are soon going to implement AR/VR technology based services to enhance customer experience. IoT is another opportunity and our team is working on some interesting use cases for it. 

Building a world-class health-tech platform continues to remain our focal point of development. Along with more than doubling the number of our fulfilment centres on the ground, we would be soon launching voice-assisted chat capability like Siri or Alexa for easy and fast product search and recommendations.  

From a human resource standpoint, we are already on track to doubling our workforce to 1200 employees, as opposed to our count of more than 600 at the start of FY 21-22. We are looking forward to setting up over 200 Fulfilment Centers within the next 2 years, which would require us to hire more technicians, engineers and medical experts. We will be ramping up our MBGO unit and would have over 1000 riders along with a significant rise in fleet size consisting of vans, mini-trucks and trucks for inter-city inventory movement. 

What are your messages or lessons for budding/young leaders? 

I love investing in the next generation of leaders. They are our future. I feel we have an obligation to share our experiences and help them learn from our mistakes.  

Having worked with different established Indian MNCs/large corporate houses, real multinationals, startups and closely working with promoters, professionals, founders, and people across Generation X, Y, and Z, this is my message to all the budding young enterpreneurs and leaders: Be a early risk taker, be content, enjoy your work. If you are not enjoying yourself, look for an alternate, be innovative and find people who can influence you. Keep pride and arrogance in check and be humble and honest to yourself. My last advice is, do what you say. 

Hope this interview will motivate all the aspiring entrepreneurs. It is a part of our HR leaders interview series. We are on a mission to bring forward the inspirational journey of successful entrepreneurs and leaders in order to spread some motivation during these tough times.

If you have anything to share, we would love to hear from you!

Email: editorial@motiverge.com

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