Dr Rajiv Bhanot is a medical doctor turned entrepreneur who is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having graduated from medical school at the Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy in Russia, he began his career working in a government hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Having completed his compulsory residency there, he found life a little too monotonous and made the bold decision to quit his job and embark on an entrepreneurial adventure.
Dr Rajiv Bhanot is the founder of H2Go Global, a water-tech company that has been supplying clean drinking water to thousands of rural communities all over the world. Using cutting edge British nano-technology, the H2GO Global systems bring clean water to those trapped in water poverty simply by turning on a tap without the need to use any electricity or chemical additives.
He is also the co-founder of a healthcare company called Meditech Malaysia. The company owns Phi Clinic Malaysia; a chain of premier medical and dental aesthetics centres, blood diagnostic labs as well as hair transplant clinics all located in Malaysia. Other start up companies under Dr Rajiv’s portfolio include companies in the entertainment, agriculture as well as infrastructure development sector. He has served in various NGO’s and organisations such as the Malaysia Ghana Business Council, Sultan Ahmed Shah Environment Trust and The Positive Living Community Home for HIV Patients. Some of the awards he has received over the years include the UNESCO Ambassador for Peace Award, the Global Lifesaver Award, and Malaysia’s Top 10 Most Innovative Young Leaders Award.
In spite of these many accomplishments, he has his feet locked firmly on the ground. For close to a decade, working 7 days a week has been the norm for Dr. Rajiv. “When you truly enjoy what you do, work never really feels like work and there are many days that I wish could stretch beyond the 24 available hours. You live life once, so do so in a manner where when you look back someday in the future you can smile and not have any regrets. Life is an adventure so maximizing every day; every opportunity and every idea is something that I think all of us should do. Nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it.”
His interview with SCIKEY covers various different aspects of his work.
How different is hiring in the healthcare sector compared to other industries? (since it focuses a lot on specialization and a lot is at stake)
I have got a healthcare business in Malaysia. We’ve got a chain of medical aesthetics and hair transplants clinics in different parts of Kuala Lumpur. I believe there is a difference when you hire someone from the medical field than others. The reason is that the doctors who are employed in the healthcare sector need to be warm enough to make the patient feel comfortable. Thus, we have to go beyond hiring a doctor only based on academic qualification. The doctor we hire must look the part they serve, have the personality necessary for the field etc. The challenge is finding the right combination of doctors who have the required qualification and are suitable for the job basis their personality. I pursued my medical studies in Russia, and today two of the directors who work with me now were classmates of mine. When you spend a considerable chunk of your time together as we did at the University, you get to see a different side of people. I think for the rest of the medical staff too; it is necessary to keep and create an influential company culture. So, when people begin working in this healthcare space, the specific culture that is created, they will have to get themselves adapted to it.
Tell us about the challenges you faced while moving from a medical practitioner on to serial entrepreneurship
The first thing that I encounter or anyone in my position would feel is that you are moving away from the comfort zone. When I was a medical practitioner, I was secure, thinking that I would be paid a salary at the end of the month. But it began to get monotonous, and whenever these strikes, I try to bring in some adventure for myself. I feel the most significant issue that I have seen people in this part of the world is that they always feel their ideas needs to be validated. They need validations when they make decisions or when they decide to incorporate some changes. This is something that I have tried moving away from. There were things I wanted to fulfil and achieve for myself. You always have to remember that when things go south, you have to be self-confident and believe in yourself. You should not begin to doubt yourself. When you are on the path of entrepreneurship where you are starting your company from scratch, you will have challenges thrown your way and you may have to face failures. You must believe in yourself to take yourself away from an environment that is safe and secure and move down the path of the unknown. Businesses are built around people. So, finding the right people that constitute the core members of your team will always be a challenge. When you go down that path, many of these decisions become instinctive. I have taken decisions on what I felt was right at the time. When you set yourself up on an unknown path, you go through various issues that you may not have experienced before.
Other issues are, a lot of people tend to mismanage their cash flow. They begin their businesses on very limited in capital investment. How do you grow your money from here then? Therefore, it is vital to get the structure right because if not, then your company is doomed right from the beginning. In any organization, leading by example, can go a very long way. In the early days of some of these days, it can get difficult hiring the right person for the right job. But as a leader, you can improve this situation by acting as an excellent mentor to your staff. I have spent hours with my team finding solutions, so they understand what we are seeking. “It is crucial to create an environment where the employees feel that they are a part of the company and should take ownership of their job.”
What are some things to focus on while hiring in the social sector?
I found H2GO, which is a water tech company, that is supplying water to rural communities all over the world. To date, over the past 8 years, we have provided our communal solutions and tanks to over 15,000 villages in different parts of the world. I observed that we need individuals in this sector who are passionate. Thankfully, my team has just the right members that believe and want to bring about positive change. Bringing clean water to a rural community not only helps with their health and status in general but also means that young girls can now go to school. In so many developing countries, it is seen that once girls hit puberty, they stop going to school because of the unavailability of clean water and sanitation. Thus, clean water is linked to education. Nelson Mandela once said that “Education is the single most weapon that can be used to change the world”. When we look at this positive change that is being brought about in the world, we want to keep this fuel burning and find more causes to support.
It has also been seen that in most households, it is the women that have to wake up early and walk miles to get clean water for their families. Now that the water is being supplied to them, they can focus on their motherly duties at home. Women get time to pursue second jobs within the family that leads to economic empowerment. This is the Domino effect of having clean water brought to a community. For such objectives, we work with anyone and anywhere in the world. For large scale projects, we work with the governments of that particular country because that is where we secure our funding. We work with corporate entities. A lot of these companies want to be able to measure the impact on their CSR programs. We even curate programs to become part of the company’s team-building exercises later. Here they participate in the installation of our technology with various villagers. We also associate ourselves with NGO’s and Non-Profit Organizations and individuals who may be looking to donate.
Your philosophy in life is if you start doing something, do it with 100% commitment, how do you pass on to the team you’re hiring?
As I said before, I believe that one leads by example. I was travelling a lot in the past couple of months. But now that I am back in my office in Malaysia, I am here seven days a week because I believe that work doesn’t stop. As much as it sounds cliche but I love what I do so I don’t take it as a job. When you are passionate about the work that you do, it rubs off on the people that you work with which they later pass on to their subordinates. When you hire someone and order them to do something, no one will accept such a job. I exercise and spend an hour at the gym on a daily basis; I spend time with the family, which is why I feel having a balanced life is very important.
So, when you inspire those around you, when they see what you’re looking to achieve, when they start seeing results come in due to the hard work you put in, that I think is the best form of motivation.
As a leader, an incubator and a mentor to startup companies helping them converting into high-growth sustainable businesses, what are your key ideas strategies to effectively acquire talent for such companies where work dynamics are evolving very rapidly.
Before you begin any business, we are the only limiting source to our dreams. No one can put a limitation on your dream but yourself. A lot of people spend too much time planning to achieve perfection. They spend years perfecting their business plan and going over it a hundred times trying to gain validation that they did the right thing. I think that if you have a dream, take that step and make it work. Every single business, at some point, has seen failure, so learn from them and move on. Focusing on what your end vision and your end goal is is very important to maintain your focus at work.
We have access to so much technology which is right here in our pockets. All of us have a smartphone, the internet is readily available, and you don’t even have to travel miles to get knowledge. It is right there in your hands! The accessibility to the world has never been easier as it is today. The pace at which it is moving, it is only going to keep getting easier.
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