Meetings, Motherhood, and Mentors: Live Session with Sehat Kahani [PART 2]

Author:
Safwa Mir
|
Publish Date:
November 2, 2020

What You Missed at the Live Session of Sehat Kahani Exclusively with Startup.pk


A well-performing and hard-working team is the driving force for any business especially when it is young and still a startup. But when the performance of your team becomes a “hit and miss”, then the very foundations of your vision becomes shaky. To build a team is not limited to finding the right group of people that can function well in your startup, but it also includes a well-mix of skills, management, and training so, that the startup can work like a well-oiled machine.

“How Sehat Kahani has survived so far is because we have a remarkable team. A team that can stand for any challenge, a team that is ready to work anytime, and sometimes we have very unrealistic expectations from our employees that sometimes we are having meetings at 11 pm at night. Our team really ensures that if we need to succeed then they need to work hard along with us.” –Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani)

 


Watch the Live Session


Team Building, Respect, and Hiring Solution

Team building is about polishing the skills of your team to effectively reach the goal. It is also a part and parcel of providing the necessary skills and resources to your team in case they don’t have it. The purpose is for them to work in harmony and with the right Ying and Yang balance.

Luckily, for Sehat Kahani, team building has been a breeze. Not only do they have an exceptional screening and training policy, but they have a proactive team management system as well. To embed the true essence of teamwork, Dr. Sara and Dr. Iffat have a good cop, bad cop policy.

 

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“We play by the good cop, bad cop phenomenon. Iffat is the good cop and she has a generally very nice persona and people come to her with their problems. So, whenever we are handling a team, Iffat is the person that gives constructive feedback and all. I am very famous for being a strict person in the organization, so I am the bad cop. So, any difficult conversation or if we have to scold anyone or point out any wrong thing then that falls into my lap. But it works really well. Our team knows that which situation do they have to engage Iffat for and which situation do they need to engage me for and these both roles are very important as sometimes people need positive validation and sometimes they need critique as well to make themselves better. So, both the elements are really important.”

 

More than skills and management, instilling values and respect in the organization’s culture is very important too. The one thing that kept the 2 female doctorpreneurs slash founders going was the belief that they have to survive as a “female leadership” by ensuring that everyone recognizes and respects the very essence of being a female entrepreneur. Therefore, it is paramount for the Sehat Kahani founders to have a team that respects women and their leadership and can survive in a women majority environment.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“Our company empowers female doctors but within the company we have 90% females. So, it is a very female oriented environment. That is why a lot of women want to work with us as they see so many women working and we also have a small nursery for those who want to bring their children as well. So, we have always encouraged a secure environment for women and for our male colleagues to realize that the women who work with us have a difficult time coming to work and how much they have to give in everyday to work and manage it.”

 


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Meetings, Men, Motherhood, and Mentors

Pakistan is a patriarchal society and that kind of mind-set plus influence has seeped into different sectors including the entrepreneurial ecosystem and health care. Seeing women in business is not a digestible fact, moreover, adding technology to it will have majority of the men lose their sleep! There is a high chance of being ostracized from opportunities, pushed out of circles, and be constantly under-estimated. However, persistence and self-belief are what kept Dr. Sara Saeed and Dr. Iffat Zafar to take Sehat Kahani on a global level.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“When we told people in our circle that we want to create a mobile application, a lot of people told us that you’re females and you work in low income societies, then why do you want to get into the hassle of making an app. We did doubt ourselves for some time and we thought that maybe this is not our forte’ and we can’t make the app. But another thing we both have in common is that what can be the worst that can happen. When you’re doing something and when you’re making something, the worst that can happen is that you can fail at it. So, we took a chance and god willing, it really paid off and we were able to create an application that works, and a lot of corporate organizations use it.

Since, it is a women-led company who are making a name in the technology business, being under-estimated and questioned on their abilities and skills is nothing new.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“One thing that we both figured out during our evolution is that we both are female bosses. When partners would meet us or they would come for interviews, then they would ask us that who is behind you? Sometimes we would turn to see who are they actually talking about? I guess the question is that who is the man behind the team and I think that is a big perception of a lot of people that there has to be a senior male member in this team to make it this far.

Also,

“We are very ambitious, and we see big dreams. When people start a small organization or see an idea, and the world thinks that they may take a lot of time to achieve their goal or maybe they will be able to do it or not, especially when a woman starts in Pakistan. We always discuss this that if we are spending 8-9 hours of our lives on this, spending our weekends, taking out time away from our children and family, then we don’t want it to be a failure. The only choice is for us to succeed and nothing else.”

For the founders of Sehat Kahani, work is not the only important thing. Family life and motherhood demand equal attention as well. It is not a secret that work-life balance, as easy at may sound, require a lot of effort and support, both from within the family and the team.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“Our relationship that helped us is that we have the same situations in our life. No one in the company will understand but I will. So, we both cover for each other a lot. We would travel alternately and if we have 3-4 meetings in a day then we divide the work between each other.”

 

An added bonus for them is to have spontaneous “play dates” for their children while the mothers can have their meetings.

 

Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga (COO & Co-founder, Sehat Kahani):

“We had a meeting but we had to make sure that the kids were engaged so I was at Sara’s place and the kids were having a play date so we could also work effectively too. So, it gives a very good support.”

 

 


Read [PART 1] of the discussion on Quality and Quacks with Sehat Kahani


 

Pakistan is a hub for talented individuals and experienced experts. There is an abundance of mentors who want to give advice, share their experiences, and guide the young entrepreneurs. Having acknowledged this, a common problem that Dr. Sara Saeed observed among the new entrepreneurs is that they were hesitant in reaching out to these mentors and engage with them to know more. Her advice was to reach out to these mentors, engage with them and constantly follow-up so, that your willingness to learn and seriousness for your vision should show.

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“Anyone who is giving out time from their busy schedule, you will have to run after them to get free advice. They have nothing on stake.  Find them and keep them engaged with follow-ups.”

 

Since, everyone needs a mentor to help meander their entrepreneurial journey and guide them on Dorothy’s yellow brick road to the emerald city, Dr. Sara and Dr. Iffat are no different.

 

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“My mentor was Kulsoom Lakhani, who is the Founder and CEO of the invest2innovate accelerator fund. She is a female investor in Pakistan, and she has been a very important part in Sehat Kahani’s and my journey in particular.”

 

A key advice from Dr. Sara’s mentor was that to avoid the “Rockstar syndrome” that startups eventually develop when they have a winning streak of pitching their business.

You can only last if you’re doing a business before pitching it. You can’t pitch something that you’re not doing.

 

Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga (COO & Co-founder, Sehat Kahani):

“My mentor is Raza Matin, who is the CEO and Founder of Brandverse. He is an exceptional mentor in terms of facilitating us and creating the brand strategy. He gives us a direction to when we are lost in terms of where we are headed in the business.”


More about Sehat Kahani and the Rolex Awards


Backlash?!

 

Every man wants good and accessible health care within the community for their women and since, Sehat Kahani is that hand-held solution.

 

Ideas of disruptions that require innovations attract view of apprehensions. But with an effective needs-based assessment, Team Sehat Kahani can figure out the potential of any target community being patriarchal and/or conservative that will be less willing to accept their telemedicine idea. Eventually, they realized that where there is good quality solution, people will come back for it.

 

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani):

“We work in low-hanging fruit areas, where they are ready to accept them. We did not have a backlash, but it took us time to develop trust in our technology. Women coming to our clinics were afraid of the online concept and purdah, etc. They started believing with time, that the woman across the screen is also a doctor. And quality care really mattered.”

 

Startups, Startup.pk and WECON

For entrepreneurs, especially startup founders, everyday is a new challenge whether it is about team building, hiring new team members, organizational goals, skill development, product market fit, getting funds or investments, etc. The most important thing is to stay connected to your purpose and be passionate about your vision. The one thing that really helps in clarifying the vision is “planning out the details” and sorting out every step to the minute details.

Moreover, to have a strong network of like-minded individuals will help the startup founders to overcome their emotional burnout. These networks don’t necessarily have to be physical but can involve the online community and startup tribes that you can join.

 

“To emotionally be able to take on challenges stably. Be mentally and emotionally fit to deal with them. Family’s perspective should also be taken into consideration as male and female entrepreneurship idea is different.”- Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani)

 

Similarly, the concept of mentorship and mentoring is not limited to having human interaction, but also includes the virtual/digital platforms that provide knowledge, resources, and guidance to the masses.

 

Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram (CEO & Founder, Sehat Kahani) on WECON Movement:

“Pakistan needs many platforms like WECON to highlight women/female entrepreneurs and their challenges via different endeavors. For younger women to take inspiration from. We need to have positive leaders and successful stories for tomorrow along with the challenges too. Female entrepreneurial success stories. WECON is tremendously paving the way.”

 

Dr. Iffat Zafar Aga (COO & Co-founder, Sehat Kahani) on Startup.pk:

“A platform that gathers startup founders, entrepreneurs on one platform/place and so it is a good approach to build such a supporting community in a country like Pakistan where people are hesitant in stepping in to such an entrepreneurial journey. Right support and network too.”

 


Read [PART 1] of the discussion on Quality and Quacks with Sehat Kahani


 


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