Dr. Aafreen Soudagar | Kalsekar Hospital India
Dr. Aafreen Soudagar - a values driven, self made professional with over 16 years of experience in Hospital Management & Administration, Marketing & Business Development - is the Chief Executive Officer of Kalsekar Hospital India (a hospital & health care company based out of Old Mumbai Pune Highway, Kausa, Mumbra, Maharashtra, India). While her expertise extends to multiple facets of healthcare, Dr Soudagar’s most profound impact lies in spearheading the need for affordability. We caught up with this go-getting, independent minded leader for her story-so-far
As someone passionate about the disruptive power of ideas, what has been the on-ground experience like for Dr. Aafreen Soudagar? What is the big need-gap her endeavour is addressing - one that makes it a need-of-the-hour? Dr Soudagar elucidates the saga: “Envisioned by our founder, the Late Hajisaheb Abdul Razzak E. Kalsekar, we operate a100 bed multispecialty hospital known as Kalsekar Hospital in the bustling Mumbra suburb fulfilling his vision of providing quality care to the needy at an affordable cost utilizing state-of-the-art facilities to provide all healthcare services under one roof. We hope many other visionaries can contribute to society the way Hajisaheb did so that we can have universal healthcare that can be accessed without any hindrances at the same standards available in more developed countries today.
How would she describe her life’s driving passion & vision – one that makes her get up in the morning? As it turns out, it is a burning desire to improve the condition of life – especially for the ‘have-nots’. Dr Aafreen Soudagar shares: “What started out as my dad’s dream of wanting me to become a doctor, eventually led me to believe through my experiences that healthcare is the most crucial service industry; where one deals with saving & adding value to human lives and the society at large. It’s been my lifelong passion to improve the quality & care provided to all patients by improving both clinical & non-clinical services that are dispensed by all associated with the facility. With the vision of providing affordable services at unmatched quality, I begin and end my day with this never-ending promise to myself and the entire team I work with.”
We enquire about the idea leader’s family-life, education & early career journey, causing Dr. Soudagar to reminisce: “Born in Solapur into a traditional & well-educated family as the only daughter, I was encouraged to pursue both my academic & sports interests during my schooling days by my parents, both of whom were teachers themselves. Along my academic journey, my father egged me on to actively participate in co-curricular activities, leading to many accolades & awards for my efforts. In high school, my love for sports brought me to participate in gymnastics, table tennis, carrom & other sporting events which was encouraged by my family & friends at large. With this continued support, I completed my Bachelors in Ayurveda and after a brief stint as a resident medical officer, proceeded to complete my Post Graduation in Hospital Management at Bangalore. This strong and diverse upbringing has helped me tremendously over my 15-year career journey, from an Assistant Administrator to the CEO of Kalsekar Hospitals to a contributor at seven organizations currently.”
Every champion has a tipping point - an Eureka Moment, so to speak, that causes life to take a new turn. Did she have one, we enquire. She did, and Dr. Aafreen Soudagar helpfully guides us through the experience. “After my Post-graduation, during my stint at a Muslim Trust Hospital in Bangalore, I witnessed how poverty denies many citizens of the basic right to affordable & quality healthcare. Taking up the challenge, I and my team set out to convince all stakeholders involved in developing affordable healthcare packages for this diaspora over a 6-month period. This experience helped me immensely in my next role, which I consider as my professional break-through moment, as a Senior Manager at a diagnostic laboratory in Muscat, Oman. Being the referral center for the Bumrungrad International Hospital of Thailand, I amassed valuable experiences in International Marketing and represented my organization at the Health Expo of Oman where we showcased the plethora of transparent & affordable health check-up packages on offer by our laboratory. Post the exposition, we received a tremendous response and saw a 30% increase in revenue as a result of our uniquely positioned products.”
Nothing worth pursuing comes easy. What were the foes that Dr. Soudagar has had to quell along the way - be it setbacks or roadblocks - and what have been the learnings gained? She confides, “I believe that over a period, especially if you are involved in the healthcare sector, one learns to take strides ahead in spite of all setbacks, professional or personal. After my stint in Oman and on returning to India, I realized that very few hospitals plan their capital expenditure keeping in mind the marketing & running costs involved for successfully operating a multi-specialty hospital. This leads to them shuttering down even before the break-even period has been completed, which is really heart-wrecking for anyone who is passionate about the sector and the promise it holds. I dedicated a lot of time & effort in understanding operation strategies from other service industries that could be implemented in Hospitals; thereby creating profitable healthcare delivery channels which is a win-win situation for investors & patients alike.” Like a true leader, it is evident that Dr Aafreen Soudagar has successfully converted her challenges into opportunities for advancement - not just for herself, but indeed, for the healthcare industry as a whole.
When we lead with conviction and courage, the impressions we leave behind - usually subconsciously - are usually long lasting and profound. Dr Aafreen Soudagar is no exception. So would she like to be remembered? What would she, in other words, want her lasting legacy to be? Despite being early days, Dr. Aafreen takes on the question sportingly, sharing, “I would want to contribute to society in my domain of expertise till the very end and hope I can pass on the same kindred spirit and legacy to all those who I continue to interact with. To be of service to one and all is the greatest achievement that any mortal can wish for; something I have learnt from all the great personalities I have had the pleasure of meeting and learning from so far!”
What has been her big learnings over the course of this odyssey, and what are the recommendation and tips she has for the next generation? Dr. Aafreen Soudagar takes the opportunity to voice her thoughts through VOH: “Having been an intrinsic part of many healthcare organizations, and being active across functions and departments, I have gained a vision and understanding into the industry from both sides of the coin. This has been my greatest learnings, so far. Unless both the provider & the recipients do not have their interests protected, there can’t be any sustainable system in place. So, I would leave just one advice to all professionals in the healthcare space; look at solving the problems that are still rampant in our society with your feet firmly on the ground but with the vision of driving sustainable transformation in all aspects of healthcare. The journey may be long but it is definitely worth dedicating one’s efforts for the betterment of the society at large!”
Amen to that.
*This story is published by VOH team*
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