Parveen Hafeez is one of the three business women from India selected for a leaders’ mentoring programme in the U.S.
The last few days have passed in a flurry of activity for Parveen Hafeez, managing director of Sunrise Hospitals. Parveen is in the U.S. to attend the Fortune/U.S. State Department Women Leaders Mentoring programme. She is one among three business women selected from India.
Dressed in a business-like black sari that complements her offices’ black and white colour scheme at Sunrise Hospital in Kakkanad, she is the picture of confidence. “There are so many deserving women out there just as good or better for the programme. I am just one of the luckier ones,” Parveen says at the outset. She had been nominated by the Kerala State Women’s Development Corporation. Besides being the founder chairperson of the Ladies Forum of the Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, she is an executive committee member of the Kerala Management Association and is also on the advisory board of the Kerala Financial Corporation.
“I have not reached anywhere,” she says. Finance and administration are her area of work at Sunrise Hospitals. Since there is finance, one expects a long list of qualifications. It, then, comes as a surprise when she says that she is just a graduate. All that she learnt was on the job, hands-on. Almost immediately she adds that not being educated enough is a regret, “Which is why, when I deliver talks at educational institutions, I stress on the importance of education. Had I been qualified I could have done in 12 years what we did in 19 years.”
She married Dr. Hafeez Rahman, gynaecologist and laparoscopic surgeon and chairperson of Sunrise Hospitals, immediately after her graduation. Besides Sunrise Hospitals, she is also the managing partner of Medlace Disposables, a surgical company, and Iware Solutions, a software development company based at Infopark. Medlace, the first company, was formed 19 years back.
It is a journey that started 21 years ago when she got married. After a two-year stint in Ahmedabad, the couple returned to Kochi with a firm resolve to ‘do something’ in Kochi.
She hails from a business family, Western Plywood in Kannur, and therefore “business is in my blood” she says. Born and brought up in North Kerala, in a community, she says, “I celebrated my childhood as a girl and I never felt I couldn’t or wasn’t supposed to do anything. And that continued after my marriage to Hafeez, my pillar of strength. I have grown up seeing strong women in my family who have done things and that has always stayed with me. Besides I was always expected to do something with my life.” She counts her three daughters among her blessings. All the three girls, incidentally, want to be doctors. “So my job is secure for the next 40 years,” she jokes.
When they set up the hospital the mandate was to provide tertiary care with the best of facilities and it is something, she says, they are constantly striving to do. ‘The woman’s touch’ in the hospital industry adds an element of warmth, she says. That firm ‘woman’s touch’ shows as she chides an employee who brings packaged fruit juice without a tray. The three phones on her desk take turns buzzing, does she ever switch off? “I don’t. I enjoy my work thoroughly. I even love the short naps I take on the couch there,” she says, pointing to the roomy couch in a corner of her office.
She is excited about the mentoring programme. She will be mentored by Kim Kadlec, vice president Johnson & Johnson (USA). Parveen will get first-hand exposure to how her mentor and her company works, “I have been my own boss all this while, now I will get to shadow someone else and there will be so much to learn.” She is looking forward to the practical lessons in management, too. Parveen has been interacting with the 34 other mentees on Facebook and says of them, “they are such a wonderful bunch of achievers from all walks of life. Meeting them also will be a learning experience.”
The programme does not end with the mentoring, once she gets back she is expected to ‘give back to society’ since the resources and time being spent on each mentee are huge.
What about work-life balance? Being mother to three girls, wife, daughter, sister… “I make time for everything. Relationships are very important and I maintain them. My husband and girls are very proud of what I do. I was a bit apprehensive about being away for a month but my family was rooting for me and here I am.”