THE 2012-2013 AMBASSADOR OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
Wharton Entrepreneurship Advisory Board Intern Fellow
How did you find the position?
What was your motivation for working at a start-up this summer?
I was looking for experience to leverage for own start-up, industry experience
What advice would you give to students interested in working at a start-up this summer?
Be clear about objectives as that makes the search simpler and the pitch to potential employers more powerful.
I worked this summer for 8 weeks with Healthspring Community Medical Centers (www.healthspring.in), a company that is a pioneer in organized, primary healthcare delivery services in India. In a scenario where escalation rates are through the roof and doctors are incentivized based on prescriptions written or referrals made, Healthspring aims to tap into the age old family doctor ethos of medical care but delivered in a modern, efficient and ethical fashion.
When I started my search for summer jobs, I was pretty sure I wanted to work at a small, young company/ startup purely for the experience and to test my own fit with the particular lifestyle and commitment a startup life requires. I came from a structured, consulting background so I wanted to spend my summer doing something I had not done before and I wanted to do it someplace where I would be allowed to get my hands dirty. However, the e-retail space (where most obvious opportunities are to be found) didn’t excite me much. I wanted to work at a brick and mortar business- call it regressive if you will! And I knew that service delivery whether in a retail setup or otherwise was what interested me. Around the same time, I was toying with a healthcare services business idea with a friend. However, we knew it was something we might go to in a couple of years not right away. But that got me started on thinking that it would be great if I could see first-hand what goes into high quality service delivery in healthcare. That’s when I wrote to an ex-colleague and mentor who I knew was working at Healthspring in Mumbai. I had not expected it to be that simple but it really was! We discussed why I wanted to do it and how I could help over the summer. So in that sense, there was no need to have a formal interview process- the CEO and my friend were both from my previous employer and that (I believe) gave them the confidence in my abilities.
It was really important to me to make sure they had thought through having me over as much as I had thought about what I wanted out of the internship. It helped that I shared a personal rapport with the person I was to work with. When I joined, we went over a list of areas that needed support and I was given a pick. However, I chose to go the generalist route so that I could get fully involved. I worked directly with the Head of Marketing & Service Delivery (my ex-colleague) as well as the CEO. Over the course of the 2 months, my projects ran the whole gamut- from sales mentoring (I had never thought I’d be giving motivational speeches J), marketing/advertising planning, service delivery & customer experience and corporate business development.
One of the projects I had to take on during this period was the turnaround of one of the service delivery centers that was lagging compared to the others. The nature of the business is such that it is highly localized, community based and hence marketing needs to be a mix of mass as well as hyper local channels. There is also the question of being consistent about positioning to our target customer base. I had the task of planning this strategy out and making sure the sales team as well as service delivery team executed it over the course of a month. In a month we were able to put the center back on track. I was lucky to have been able to see the results while I was there but the experience itself was greatly satisfying.
Healthspring is among the first medical institutions in India that has started maintaining electronic medical records for its patients to ensure ease of accessibility as well as consistency of care. Hence, the data generated is valuable simply because nobody else in the country really has this richness of data. For a large corporate client, the company had flagged off its one-of-its-kind corporate wellness program. The program had been in place for about 3 months and because of lack of bandwidth and/or skills, the data had not been explored or analyzed yet. This was another important piece I worked on. As such, part of my role was also to train other operations people in the company in basic analytics so that the job could be delegated and hence executed in a timely manner going forward.
I came away having seen and done more than I had hoped – most important of which was the chance to not only have access to the upper management that makes strategic choices (as in my previous job as a consultant) but also to see how those choices have an impact on the day to day workings of a company. Each piece of work was an important part of the puzzle- both impactful as well as necessary. The experience of the work/lifestyle and challenges have equipped me better for a time when I might launch my own business. For now, I am back at Wharton and have resumed my classes.