The Founder, MD and CEO of Metropolis Healthcare Ltd which is a multinational chain of diagnostic centers, Ameera Shah is one of the rising stars of young India. Metropolis Healthcare has become the first healthcare center to create a sustainable business model for pathology and also the first one to cross in to emerging markets under the leadership of this businesswoman. It has grown from a single pathology laboratory in 2002, to a full-fledged global chain of more than 125 diagnostic and over 800 collection centers which are spread across South Asia, Middle East and Africa.
Metropolis has gained a reputation for itself by being able to implement global standards of quality in all its processes and systems which is what establishes trust of patients in any pathology lab. This is also accredited to her. She is the person who has been able to bring about the revolution in the pathology industry successfully and this has benefitted almost everybody.
Ameera is also widely known to be a spokesperson and has also featured as a speaker in various forums like industry events, conclaves and other events, nationally as well as internationally. These include some of the most prestigious institutions across the globe like Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad, Harvard Business School, TED (conference), CII and many such reputed institutions and conferences. She is a movie buff, likes to play tennis, sailing and go hiking. She prefers to read thriller fiction novels.
Born to a family of doctors in Mumbai on the 24th of September 1979, she was brought up in a simple environment. Her family was not too rich but had a modest lifestyle. In those days when an air-conditioner used to be a style statement which they couldn’t afford. When Ameera grew up, she was very keen on going to the United States to pursue her education, but didn’t want to burden her parents with the exorbitant fees.
She has completed her Graduation in finance from The University of Texas and has also pursued her Owner-President Management Program from the Harvard Business School. She was forced to take money from her parents for her first year but she took up part-time jobs to pay off her fees and achieved scholarships too. At the early age of 18, she was financially independent.
a) A fall which was actually not a fall
After completing graduation, she began working for Goldman Sachs in New York and though it was a huge corporation, it didn’t appeal to her intuitive mind.
She was driven towards a role which offered her a position of leadership and responsibility. She wanted to do something for the world. She even tried working with a few start-up companies, in hopes that they would offer her something on similar lines, but they couldn’t fancy her.
Finally, her dream pulled her back to India in early 2000.
b) The beginning
After she came back to India, she discussed her dream with her father, Dr. Sushil Shah. She wanted to do something which appealed to her and which was result oriented. She was confused between ‘if she wanted to be an entrepreneur or she wanted to be an executive’. However, in order to make things easier for her, her father asked her to spend the next few months watching his work. Her father owned a pathology lab at that point of time. She began watching the way things, in general, worked. This was the beginning of her realization that entrepreneurship was her aim.
She recognized that her father’s vision of ‘building a chain of diagnostic labs across India’ had huge potential. Ameera quickly decided to capitalize on its business potential and she changed its name to Metropolis Healthcare as the first step.
After this, it was time to establish separate departments like IT, HR, Purchase, Marketing and sales. The next step was partnering with local laboratories to create a chain across the country. Metropolis HealthCare officially hit the healthcare business ground in 2001.
c) The rise and hitch-ups and rise
It is as if the world had been planning for her success from the very beginning in 1981, when her father had opened this lab in Mumbai. He must not have had any idea what his lab would turn out to be. Slowly but steadily, Ameera began tapping every possible Lab across the country. However, she also faced numerous problems.
The major problem in the initial days was that the company was to convince the local labs to tie up with them. The idea held huge potential yet these labs were unable to see the fact that tying up with Metropolis would only boost their brand identity and business. Apart from that, another concern on her mind was that the labor power that these labs had, were mostly unskilled and lacked basic knowledge of pathology and healthcare.
Ameera solved this problem in her style by training almost everyone from partners to the sample collector and molded them to become more and more customer-centric. This might sound childlike yet it turned out to be equally critical to Metropolis’s successful expansion from a mere 40-employee organization to what it is today.
She felt that the company was now ready and wanted to expand it further with her goal in her mind. The company was in dire need of funds to achieve the said goal. At this critical juncture, ‘ICICI Bank Ltd’s venture fund’ came into picture and with that, Metropolis got their first ever undisclosed external funding in 2006. From here the company has never looked back domestically as well as internationally.
Ameera, who came from a finance background, made sure not to leave any stone unturned and grabbed every opportunity that came her way. Her company expanded so quickly and the story of her success became so popular so soon, that in 2010 a New York-based private equity firm called – ‘Warburg Pincus’ proactively approached ICICI and bought their stake in the company. Not only that, they even invested a whopping $85 Million in the company as well, to make sure there was an unstoppable growth. From here on there was actually no stopping the company’s growth into a multinational pathology company.
Metropolis Healthcare has grown into a $350 Million enterprise in the last five years. It has revenues worth more than of $90 million and has a strong staffing of more than 4,500 employees of which almost 55% are female which is a step towards eradicating gender discrimination. It is also India’s only multinational chain of 125 diagnostic centers spread across India as well as Sri Lanka, South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, Ghana, Seychelles, Nepal, Bangladesh, and the United Arab Emirates.
The company is making its presence felt in every state of India, either through their own branch or collection centers or their referral network. What makes them even more proud is the fact that about 75% of their revenues come from the Indian market, whereas only the remaining 25% revenues come from the international market which proves the trust which Indian people lend them.
Metropolis has expanded its services to provide other healthcare services like Clinical Trials, Preventive Health Check-ups, Home Health Services, Hospital Lab Management and Corporate & Wellness Solutions. Today, the company boasts of offering routine tests as well as highly specialized tests in genetics and molecular biology (which covers most therapeutic areas) which number around 4000 tests, under a single roof.
The company, which once used to face difficulties in convincing locals about their endeavors, has now become their favorite provider of specialized testing operating in more than 10,000 laboratories, hospitals, research institutions with 50,000 doctors and 200,000 consultants who process over 15 million tests annually, in 125 cities across the country.
Due to their nearly perfect quality of services, Metropolis Laboratories have also been accredited by CAP (College of American Pathologists), USFDA, NABL (National Accreditation Board for Laboratories) and ISO 15189 for using best technologies, globally accepted best practices, and highly trained and skilled manpower. The business which started with the problem of not having skilled labor is now acknowledged by the premier institutions of the healthcare world as offering the best services.
The promoter family of the chain of companies, has bought the approximate 26% stake back from Warburg Pincus and at the same time has also invested more than $85 Million to add almost 15 more laboratories and new and modernized equipment to their kitty. They have also entered the arena of dental care services and though they have worked mostly in Mumbai and Chennai only, they intend to expand soon.
The company is now eying North and East India and want to acquire companies in these regions, more particularly in states like Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal where there is a lack of good healthcare services. They might also go for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to launch themselves in the stock market.
The only problem the company continues to face since the beginning and even now is that the Indian pharmaceutical industry is very scattered and a continual lack of regulations and standardization on services, worsen the situation.
Awards and Achievements
Was listed in ‘Asia’s Power Business Women’ by Forbes Asia in 2015
She was featured in the ‘Young Global Leader’ list by World Economic Forum in 2015
Honored with ‘Exemplary Women Leadership award’ at the World Women Leadership and Congress awards in 2014
Chosen as one of the most respected leaders under 40 years by Economic Times & Spencer Stuart in 2014
Received ‘The Young Achiever of the Year Award’ at the CMO Asia Awards in 2011
Received the ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award’ by Entrepreneur India and Bloomberg in 2011 which is one of the most prestigious awards for Entrepreneurs in India.
Presented with ‘The Young entrepreneur of the Year Award’ by GE in 2006