Dr Sanjeev Kanoria, is the founder and Chairman of Advinia Health Care, one of the top 10 private care providers in the UK which is now valued at around £250m.
Sanjeev started Advinia from a garden shed with his wife in 1999 after leaving McKinsey and completing his MBA at LBS. The 2018 acquisition of 22 care homes from international healthcare group Bupa saw the business grow by 500%, with 38 care homes and nearly 3,500 beds.
What inspired you to move into the care sector and set up Advinia? What is your current role in the business?
After a decade in the health sector, working as an NHS surgeon and as a healthcare consultant at McKinsey, I observed that Care was fragmented and poorly managed. Care homes had a bad reputation at the time, and I was keen to change that to ensure older people were able to secure the best possible treatment in their final years. I was confident I could improve care quality and efficiency and that I could conserve and transform valuable care assets. When I first started Advinia, I was doing my PHD at UCL doing seminal research in the field of liver transplantation.
My role is to guide strategy, identify opportunities, monitor performance and solve any major problems. I work hard to ensure that we consistently stay ahead of our competitors with regard the level of care we provide and also the advancements that we make in technology and staffing. Recently, through a partnership with three international universities and Softbank robotics to trial AI culturally sensitive dementia robots in our homes to great success.
How has Covid affected your business and the care sector in general? What will you be doing differently in the future?
It has had a massive impact on a sector that was already vulnerable, underfunded and understaffed going into the pandemic.
We have been more fortunate than many, particularly because our occupancy rates were well above industry pre-pandemic. But that doesn’t meant that we have not learned lessons in the past few months, which is true whatever industry you are in. For us, we have seen more than ever how important it is to value our staff who have performed so admirably during this difficult time, we have also tried to adopt new technology wherever possible. This has included digital GP appointments to try to keep our residents away from the risks of hospitals and keep pressure off the NHS.
We will continue to prove that we are a brand that people can rely on. Whenever we acquire struggling care homes, like the 22 (2700 beds) we bought from BUPA last year, we bring these homes up to a level of quality consistent across the business, that people trust and know they can rely on. It is a difficult and emotional decision to put a relative into care and it is important that people can be confident that their loved ones will be well looked after.
Whilst we saw an initial dip in admissions, it is beginning to return to normal as the general public understands that care homes are a much safer place for vulnerable people to be than hospitals or at home due to the stringent hygiene standards and well-trained staff. We want to maintain a brand that gives people peace knowing their relatives are safe and well-cared for and to make sure that we are the first choice in the communities we operate in for residents and staff too.
This will continue to be a challenging time for the sector, but hopefully it will encourage greater attention and government funding into Care in the future. This crisis has also opened the door for many intelligent, tech-savvy young people to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities to enhance the sector.
Is there anything that defines the way that you do business?
Attention to detail, whether that is with Advinia, the bank I acquired in Austria, or my hospital in Mumbai. All of these are very different businesses, but there is a symbiotic relationship where what works well with one often applies to others, particularly a focus on processes, the development of a strong and empowered team with a shared vision, and ensuring that we are at the cutting edge of technological advances. These also mean that each of these businesses can also attract strong leaders.
Who do you admire?
I admire the great prophets who have left powerful examples with their lives and messages for mankind. Jesus’s message of love and forgiveness, Krishna’s wisdom on fulfilling one’s duty on the planet and working for the general good; both of these have influenced and guided my life and decision making.
I am not religious in the traditional sense but the guidance given by these great prophets, if understood properly and interpreted clearly, has valuable management lessons such as cultivating core values, sticking by your team, developing a vision and mission, surviving adversity and listening to your inner voice. They offer so much more than any modern management guru and though you may hear echoes these individuals confuse and conflict too often.
What would you tell your younger self?
That perfection is often the enemy of progress. That mistakes are the greatest lessons, both yours and others. And the value of forgiveness.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Follow your intuition and be confident in your own strength and wisdom. Listen and learn from others but do not follow people blindly and ignore your own values, beliefs and goals.
How do you continue to grow professionally?
Overseeing a number of businesses, means that I am under a constant barrage of urgencies. So, every day I meditate to develop my soul and inner intuition, I find this helps me make better decisions and sharpens my attention, memory and intuitive intelligence.
I stay informed, and read regularly. However, I find that taking on too much information, like overeating, can cause overload. It is important to leave space for your own thinking and guidance. Ensure too, that you take the time to digest and assimilate information.
What are you working on now?
Earlier this year, I took a tele-health business called VideoDoc out of insolvency. It is a patient-powered, ultra-convenient healthcare solution that eliminates the need for people to travel to see their doctors, which is particularly useful for people of all ages in the current climate. Over the past few months I have completely overhauled the business model and technology and am currently working on a strategy for the next few years.
I am also working on a new book on the science of spirituality.