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Four sisters’ promotions at Apollo Hospitals signal growth plans

Preetha Reddy, promoted to executive vice-chairwoman

Apollo Hospital Group’s promotion of four second-generation sisters to key executive roles signals the family business is preparing for entrepreneurial activities, a family business academic says.

This month, Dr Prathap Reddy, 80, founder and chairman of the Indian healthcare giant, announced Preetha Reddy, 56, already anointed his heir apparent, would have expanded duties under her new role as executive vice-chairwoman.

She was previously managing director of the family business, a role that will now be shared between her sisters Suneeta and Sangita.

A fourth sister, Shobana Kamineni, has also been appointed executive vice-chairwoman.

In a statement, the company, which had revenues of 31.73 billion rupees (€331.6 million) in 2012, said the appointments were made to help accelerate growth over the next five years.

Speaking on the appointments, Dr Reddy said: “Our primary focus at Apollo is to continue on our path of growth and profitability in existing businesses while expanding to newer geographies, develop new areas in the healthcare business and harness the potential of technology to accelerate growth and innovation thereby continuing to significantly build shareholders value.”

Dr Kavil Ramachandran, a professor of family business and wealth management at the Indian School of Business, says it is not unusual to see so many siblings working together in an Indian family business.

However, he explained because India is a patriarchal society, it is unusual to see so many sisters in executive positions. Indian family businesses are traditionally passed down male bloodlines.

Ramachandran said Preetha was chosen with the unanimous support of her sisters, who have previously worked in operational roles, as the heir apparent to their father.

In her new role, Preetha will work with clinicians to review global medical advances and introduce contemporary protocols for best practice, Apollo Hospitals said in a statement. It also said she will work closely with industry bodies and state and central governments to advance healthcare policy issues.

The responsibilities of the other sisters will include: corporate strategy and finance, investments, mergers and acquisitions, branding and marketing, and information technology. Shobana and Sangita will each lead the group’s pharmaceutical division, and its initiatives in telemedicine, e-health and mobile health respectively.

Ramachandran says the appointments signal the family will henceforth focus on strategy and governance, leaving operations to non-family professionals, adding: “This also means that the family will address growth related opportunities and is not likely to be content with its current level of activities. One can expect more entrepreneurial initiatives from them.”

In their new roles the sisters will have time to groom the next generation, Ramachandran said, which is already “knocking at the doors”. Two third-generation family members hold management positions at the business.

The start of the Reddy empire began in 1983 when Dr Reddy, who had previously had his own medical practice in the US, launched India’s first corporate hospital. Since then it has become Asia’s largest healthcare group, including 50 hospitals, more than 1,600 pharmacies, 92 primary care and diagnostic clinics and 100 telemedicine units.

The company also has a research foundation with a focus on global clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and stem cell and genetic research. 

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