I did not want to pursue medicine: Narayana Health COO Viren Shetty

Viren Shetty, who speaks about his switch from an engineer to a management professional and now the COO of Narayana Health.

Published: 16th December 2021 04:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th December 2021 04:46 AM   |  A+A-

Narayana Health COO Viren Shetty

Narayana Health COO Viren Shetty (Photo| Twitter)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Viren Shetty was six years old when he came to Kolkata from England. His father, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, was busy setting up the BM Birla Heart Research Centre in Kolkata and his family actually lived in the hospital for the first couple of months.

Growing up in a family comprising an ace cardiac surgeon was not easy. Shetty was staying in a room that was converted into a flat in the semi-furnished hospital in Kolkata. Unlike watching out for friendly neighbours, Shetty grew up amidst medical emergencies and patients undergoing surgeries - which has now become part and parcel of his life. 

Shetty has come a long way from being a mere observer of medical surgeries to using the experience to introduce reforms around the logistics and management of medical emergencies. Shetty, who is now the chief operating officer (COO) of Narayana Health (NH), is on a mission to digitise the operations in the healthcare ecosystem.

From collaborating with startups to introduce innovative health insurance options to addressing the inefficiencies during surgeries and post-recoveries through digital transformations, Shetty has a blueprint of reforms that he is planning to implement in the days to come. 

However, the journey to becoming the COO of NH came with a baggage of mixed experiments, both in engineering and management. Unlike his dad or young brother, Dr Varun Shetty, he did not want to take up medicine.

"I saw the first open heart surgery when I was eight years old. And there was nothing in there that made me feel that I wanted to pursue medicine. I was more interested in computers, engineering and business," says Shetty, who is a civil engineer.

He also felt that the engineering course was not 'rigorous enough' and more so, like any other youngster, he was encouraged to pursue a double degree. "In fact, the engineering curriculum gave me enough free time. While still in college in 2006, I decided to work with NH to get a headstart. I was in the maintenance department at the hospital, looking after generators, toilet construction and sewage treatment plants," says Shetty, who then went on to pursue a Masters in Business Administration.

"I started disassociating myself with a lot of construction projects and started moving onto the management side of NH while pursuing MBA. I then started working with investors and with the board full time, once I completed my higher studies in the US," he adds. 

Recalling how difficult it was to spend time with his father growing up, Shetty feels he never got to see him much, except for the first two months while setting up the hospital at Kolkata. "We used to see him during breakfasts or if we were lucky, on Sundays as well. That’s pretty much what I do right now as a father," says Shetty, who spends time at his family's farmhouse on weekends.

Throwing light on his fitness routine, Shetty says, "When I was a kid, I used to binge eat without worrying about the consequences. Since I am close to 40 now, I get my fitness advise mostly from my wife who says - sugar is poison, reduce carbs, exercise for 30 mins. In fact, exercising in the morning always make me feel better for the rest of  the day."

Is there pressure considering his lineage? "The responsibilities and titles are handed over to the next generation without you having to work for it. Children of famous people can't afford to make mistakes. The pressure exists and it is an enormous responsibility because my father is still active in the company and it is important to execute his vision," he says.


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