UAE- It's all in the genes

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Zulekha Daud, the owner and managing director of Zulekha Healthcare Group in Dubai and Sharjah, is a common sight in the corridors of Sharjah''s Zulekha hospital even today. Her daughter Zanubia Shams, co-chairperson of Zulekha Hospital, is working hard to retain her mom''s legacy and cope with operational challenges to stay competitive in the healthcare industry.

"The roles she plays in our lives are beyond that of a business mentor. We were always encouraged to take responsibilities from an early age by our parents. Ever since, we have been in that frame of mind, be it at home or business."

Shams, a visionary leader, entrepreneur and a healthcare ambassador, has shouldered the operational responsibilities of the Zulekha Healthcare Group since 2005. Equipped with an inherent passion for excellence in operations and strategic leadership, she exudes an air of confidence that catalyses operational efficiencies across the group.

The visionary says the journey has been very challenging and a great business re-engineering experience. "When I took management responsibilities, the organisation had been founded and operational for a long time. However, it needed to be projected as a brand of choice among communities. We worked towards building the brand image. We have ensured Zulekha Hospital speaks for itself as a brand that offers accessible and affordable healthcare services," says Shams.

The post-graduate in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University, USA, informs that blending the expertise of medicine and business helped her to achieve a fine balance.

A balancing act

"Having lived and worked with healthcare professionals, sharing experiences as we progressed, familiarity and knowledge sharing led to satisfaction. Apart from knowing nuances in the medical field, I enjoyed learning and incorporating my management traits in daily operations."

Over the years, Shams has established a network of healthcare facilities, including medical centres, pharmacies and a pharmaceutical store. She has also undertaken various CSR initiatives covering a spectrum of healthcare services, from primary care to quaternary care, within the UAE. These activities will also be replicated across facilities in India.

Together with Taher Shams, managing director of Zulekha Healthcare Group, Shams leads the group''s expansion in the UAE and India.

Shams has remained committed towards philanthropy. Her active involvement in helping communities and the underprivileged goes beyond the conventional boundaries of healthcare. Through a series of campaigns, she has addressed major health concerns. She launched a new cervical cancer screening and prevention initiative titled ''Smear, Don''t Fear'' to help reduce the incidence of the disease. This campaign was developed by Zulekha Hospitals to highlight the importance of regular checks for early detection.

In line with global breast cancer awareness activities, Shams spearheaded the launch of Zulekha Hospital''s ''Pink It Now'' campaign, offering women in the UAE access to free breast cancer consultations and mammograms.

The Zulekha Healthcare Group has partnered with IFC - World Bank Group to drive ''She Works'', a global initiative to improve women''s employment. This initiative compels a 60:40 women to men employee ratio to be achieved by the organisation.

Top tips

"When you want to do something in life, you must begin with the first step. Challenges are a part of your journey. One must be flexible in decision making and make the most of every opportunity presented to you. Revisiting our plans helped continue improvement," she says.

"We promote diversity as a key value. I encourage department heads to recruit personnel who are competent, irrespective of gender or nationality. Different perspectives are welcome."

Shams feels the UAE government agencies offer extensive support to any entrepreneur, irrespective of gender. "Women do not feel the heat in approaching any establishment when starting a business. The key to successfully launching your business is to be sure of what you want to sell as a product or service. You must know the offering thoroughly."

Shams advises that one must be practical and open to learning. "There is always scope to get better. In a largely competitive world, we aspire to stay ahead of the curve. We believe technology advancements have helped us to a great extent. Technology and the human touch go hand in hand in ensuring our healthcare personnel are provided with all the tools and applications they need to ensure ease of operations and access to data they need. Organisations must keep their eyes and ears open and be ready for investments and advancements at lightning speed."

The group is currently working on a groundbreaking project in Dubai to provide a state-of-the-art cancer unit. The new facility will include a 100-bed inpatient room, ICU rooms, dialysis service and a sleep lab. The extension is expected to be completed by mid-2017.

Zulekha Healthcare Group is also supporting an ongoing 200-bed tertiary care hospital (Alexis Hospital) in Nagpur, India. This will be the first multi-specialty hospital offering secondary and tertiary care (cancer/cardiology/orthopaedic and neurology treatments) in the region. The group plans to see over 100,000 patients in one year.


Zulekha Hospitals is an active member of the ''She Works'' partnership, a global initiative by the IFC, a member of the World Bank.

"Alongside other companies, we pledged to implement measures proven to enhance women''s employment opportunities - such as mentorship programmes, flexible working arrangements and leadership training to increase diversity in management. This helps us ensure gender diversity and drive productivity, competitiveness and innovation at work," says Zanubia Shams.

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