Chief Financial Officer
The healthcare market in India is being driven by the rising prevalence of lifestyle diseases, increasing demand for affordable health-care delivery systems due to rising health-care costs, technological advancements, the emergence of telemedicine, rapid health insurance penetration, government initiatives like e-Health, and tax benefits and incentives. In 2020, the Indian health tech market was worth $1.9 billion and it is anticipated to reach $5 billion by 2023 at a CAGR of 39 percent.
Ashish Maheshwari, a visionary and dynamic CFO with around 20 years of experience, is currently working with Apollo Health and Lifestyle to deliver and develop a comprehensive primary healthcare strategy in India and the ecosystem that surrounds it. He has strong control and compliance structure and outstanding knowledge of USGAAP, Indian GAAP, IND-AS, taxation, and financial planning strategies and is one of the few professionals in India holding memberships of all the major institutes C.A, C.S and C.M.A.
CEO Insights Asia recently engaged in a one on one interaction with Ashish, here are some highlights from our interaction.
Briefly tell us about your professional back-ground and experiences. What drives you today?
I began my career in the corporate sector with ABB and climbed the corporate ladder from Project Controller to Unit CFO in just six years. Following that, I joined Aetna and worked there for nearly a decade. In the be-ginning, I was in the Middle East as the Regional Finance Director, responsible for the entire commercial and strategic outlook in the Healthcare sector. We established a new $30M business line with a profitable EBITDA of more than 30 percent. Soon, I was promoted as the CFO and led the company to an 8x profit in four years, transforming a loss-making business in India into a profitable one.
Following my time at Aetna, I joined Apollo Health and Lifestyle (Apollo Hospitals group) and am now the CFO for all of their operations, includ-ing Dental, Sugar, Clinics, Diagnostics, Cradle, Fer-tility, Spectra, and Dialysis. As part of my current role, I've been focusing on getting the fundamentals right, establishing integrated processes for various financial, business, and operational modules, and then looking at strategic opportunities for organic and inorganic business growth.
You possess about two decades of experience, how has your path to success been, and what is your success mantra?
During my education, I was focused on obtaining C.A, C.S, C.M.A, and M.B.A, so I was basically operating at 4x capacity. I recall having an extremely disciplined daily routine for a period of seven years, beginning with my graduation and ending with my professional qualifications.
During my professional career, I multi-tasked across many sub-functional roles which helped me improve and gain a comprehensive under-standing of the spectrum, from bookkeeping and rising through the ranks to becoming an executive.
Define Apollo Health and Lifestyle as an organization and its current position in the industry?
Apollo Health and Lifestyle is one of India's largest players in the retail healthcare sector. Today, the company operates the largest network of standardized primary health care models in India and the Middle East. Dr. Prathap C. Reddy, our visionary Founder Chairman, identified the retail healthcare opportunity long before others, and thus, Apollo Clinics was founded as a network. Since the establishment of its first Clinic in 2002, Apollo Health and Lifestyle has experienced significant growth and progress, not only in terms of its geographical footprint and number of centres but also in the variety of service delivery formats it now offers. In re-cent years, the company has expanded into multiple formats and established leadership in nearly every segment in which it operates.
Could you tell us about some of the technologies adopted in Apollo Clinics and Diagnostics centres to portray a picture of how advanced are they? Tell us about how Apollo constantly invests in the latest healthcare technologies?
Clinics, Sugar, Dental, Cradle, Fertility, Diagnostics, Spectra, and Dialysis are the eight verticals in which Apollo Health and Lifestyle operates. All of these verticals have distinct business dynamics and, as a result, technological structures. Apollo Health and Lifestyle has a strong, efficient IT infrastructure that has been tailored to these various structures, and we are constantly improving it to enhance the patient and distributor experience. With significant year-on-year growth over the years, we have made it a priority to continually invest in our CAPEX requirements to improve IT infrastructure.
Dream big & never forget why you started
Dream big & never forget why you started
Going forward, what are the goals that you wish to invest in and how do you plan to take them further?
My immediate mid-term professional goal is to improve Apollo's complete functional operational model and automate the numerous transactional modules. With this, I can actively participate in efforts to improve business and operational efficiency across the nation, thereby maximizing both top and bottom-line growth. My long-term aim is to look for possibilities that are much broader than what I am doing now, where I would like to add more active business-centric responsibilities or manage a larger book size as the CFO.
What would be your advice to the individuals stepping into this domain?
I would urge all professionals to divide their goals into three categories- short term, medium-term, and long term, and then establish plans to achieve their objectives accordingly. Integrity, professionalism, loyalty, perseverance, smart working, strong theoretical and practical knowledge, continuing to study, and stability in any organization you are affiliated with are key traits to obtain and sustain. I'd like to point out that it's a myth that theoretical knowledge is less important than practical knowledge. They are complementary to one another. Strong theoretical knowledge allows you to perform better in newer, unfamiliar scenarios.
Ashish Maheshwari, CFO, Apollo Health and Lifestyle
Ashish is an innovative and dynamic CFO and business leader with almost two decades of experience. He is a global business leader and has set up new businesses and transformed businesses in India, UAE and Qatar. He strives to learn new things that are outside his comfort zone and thrives in challenging situations. He is an involved and informed business partner who works hand in hand with the CEO to make a successful business. In times of need, he also rolls up his sleeve to get the work done.
Favourite Cuisine: Indian (notably the hot snacks), Burmese and Italian
Favourite Book: The One Minute Manager
Favourite Travel Destination: Switzerland, Venice & London