Satish Kini – Healthcare Entrepreneur – Quest for Healthcare for All! Part 1

Guest article by Satish Kini, committed health-care entrepreneur, Founder Director & Chief Mentor of 21st Century Health Management Solutions, a healthcare firm that provides low cost healthcare solutions. The author  was  honored with INDIRA GANDHI PRIYADAESHINI AWARD in Nov 2010 for his commitment and perseverance in making healthcare  Patient Sensitive, Accessible, Available and Affordable through a holistic improvement in People, Processes & Technologies. In a 3 part series, Satish shares his journey of starting like any other IITian and dreaming to move up the corporate ladder, till the calling came.

I realized that I was wired differently in the 4th year of my B.Tech. like most of the IITians I got my forms for GRE exams – the shortest route to the US. However, after a night of introspection, I auctioned off the forms. I realized that my heart was more in social engineering rather than in the forms of engineering taught at the IITs. I went on to complete my B Tech from IIT Bombay in 1976 and PGDBA from the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies in 1981.

The tug-of-war between the mind and the heart continues to-date. My mind pushes me to do what is best for my body, soul, my health and wealth. However, the heart exhorts me to take the path less traveled. Fortunately for my soul, my heart has ruled in most strategic decisions of my life while the mind was left to handle the execution. Today at 57, I feel at peace with myself although I am far from satisfied with my achievements. Like Robert Frost, I believe I have miles to go before I can sleep!

I got the first nudge from my destiny in 1978. I was then the Design Head at a locks plant of Godrej & Boyce. It was a cushy 7-to-4 job. At an unearthly hour of 6.15 am I was rushing across the railway bridge between Dadar Western and Dadar Central. Like the multitude with me, I was running to catch a train to Vikhroli. The mad beggar who lived on the bridge was gesticulating wildly as usual. However, unlike other days, I stopped to listen. What got him so excited at 6am every day? He was shouting excitedly,

“Bhago-Bhago! Subah Is Taraf Bhago, Aur Shaam ko us taraf bhago”( Run-run! In the morning run in one direction and in the evening run in the other direction!“) .

That morning I missed my 6.25 am fast.

His words set my mind racing. Who was mad? The beggar or the millions of educated & intelligent guys running around like rats? It was a rat-race in which the smartest became the winners. Or so I thought. That did not sound right to me. I felt that life necessarily had a bigger purpose than becoming rat No 1. To make a difference, I realized I must be at the management end and not at the delivery end. So, I quit my cushy job in 1979.

It was the turning point No 1. I thank the mad beggar on Dadar Bridge!

Satish Kini receiving the Indira Priyadarshini award

I must remind you that the early 80s were the license raj days. There was very little an inexperienced IIT / MBA could do by himself in order to make any impact on the society at large. Many MBAs took cushy jobs with the foreign banks or the MNCs. They sold financial products, toothpaste, soaps and cigarettes. Some joined engineering companies like L&T and Telco. However, most (i.e. 80%) of my IIT batch-mates went abroad in order to make their fortunes. But, I felt compelled to stay back. My dreams were linked to India and Indians. I wanted to make a difference by staying here. However, I did not know where and how to start. Politics was not an option.

I looked for a job where being young and idealistic was not a liability. I also looked for a SME so that I could be close to the top. I needed an inside view of their Vision, Mission and Approach. I cared for an enterprise’s approach towards the business and the society. I wanted to learn how to run a company properly. I also wanted an opportunity to test out my ideas and approach. My search led me to IDM in India’s fledgling IT industry. IDM was a small but high profile IT Solutions Company founded by 170 ex IBM employees, after IBM had to hastily exit Indian shores in 1978 due to restrictions imposed on MNCs.

(To be continued)