Morten Kriek sits down with Dr. Sanjeev Kanoria to talk about his business, his life, Ukraine and his participation in the CIS BANKERS Ukrainian Banking Forum.
Sanjeev belongs to the entrepreneurial Kanoria family from Rajasthan. He is Vice Chairman of Austrian Anadi Bank AG, Chairman of Advinia Health Care Limited, Managing Director of Suasth Health Care (India)Ltd. All the three businesses are 100% owned by the kanorias. He is also a trustee of the Kanoria Family Foundation which the largest infrastructure finance company in India, engaged in financing and developing Infrastructure projects such as roads, Ports, Telecom, Power, Housing, Hospitality and Healthcare.
He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and of Glasgow in 1992 and worked in Liver transplant surgery at Kings College hospital. He was awarded a Category 1 PhD from University College London for his pioneering work in reducing liver injury.
He took a career break from surgery to complete a MBA from London Business School and Kellogs in Strategy, finance and health care. He subsequently worked with McKinsey & Co, (UK) as a consultant, before leaving in 1999 to start Advinia Health Care which has recently acquired a large no. of dementia beds from Bupa to become the top providers of care in the UK with 3300 beds and employs 4500 people. It has received many awards for innovative and quality service. He has also developed a state of the art 400 bed multi speciality hospital in Mumbai.
Kanorias purchased the Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank in December 2013 from the Austrian government. The bank has been renamed as Austrian Anadi bank and is one of the oldest banks in Europe being formed in 1896. The Bank has recently added an innovative digital platform for retail banking.
Morten Kriek (MK): In what kind of family and neighborhood did you grow up?
Sanjeev Kanoria (SK): I grew up in a conservative Hindu (vedantic) family in Kolkata, India. We lived in a good neighbourhood, amongst middle/upper middle class professionals who were friendly, caring and hard working.
My father was highly educated. From a young age, he encouraged curiosity in me and my siblings. We would question everything, from religion to culture, in order to better understand the world we lived in. We hence learnt to respect and love all religions and people.
Our family had been in business for over 200 years, with hard work and contribution to society central to the culture. The family business however did not appeal to me, and I wanted to become a surgeon from the age of 12.
MK: When did you decide you wanted to become a liver transplant surgeon?
SK: After completing my training as a general surgeon in London and obtained my FRCS, I practiced for 3 years. It was a great introduction to medicine, however the work soon became repetitive and boring. I took a career gap to do a MBA from London business school and work with mckinsey. However, this was not me and I wanted to return back to a higher speciality in surgery, which would
stimulate me physically, mentally and spiritually.
I hence joined kings college hospital, London, liver transplant unit, which is one of Europe’s best liver transplant units. It was physically demanding – a typical surgery would be 8-12 hours, required good understanding of all aspects of medicine, and the work was challenging. It energized my soul, and I was committed to it for 15 years.
MK: How did your experience as surgeon serve you as a banker?
SK: The MBA and McKinsey experience, combined with the operational and detail focused attitude of a surgeon (and desire to get your hands dirty), served me well when I came across a bank which was not well run with poor systems in place, when we took over. This was the hypo alpe adria bank in Austria. We renamed it as Austrian Anadi bank and I spent the first year working closely with middle management, delving into the finer details with them to establish new and efficient systems and processes. I learnt risk calculations to better acquaint myself with how the risk dept worked – which is vip in a bank and impt for decision making.
MK: What is the last book you read?
SK: “The Yoga of Jesus” by Paramahansa Yogananda.
I am fascinated by the life of Jesus. How the simple message of a great prophet – love and forgiveness – is universally relevant across all ages. The book describes the deep connection between the Bible and the ancient Vedantic philosophy of India and how Jesus tried to explain to people the simple truths of Yoga (which simply means union) with God and his creation.
MK: You bank is doing really well in the competitive Austrian market. Describe your a-ha moment at which point you knew your venture might actually become a success.
SK: When we got a green rating by the regulator on risk and governance, we knew our effort had paid off. It was so important to get this right because it provided a stable and trusted platform from which we could attract high quality senior management.
MK: What was the best advise anyone ever gave you, and did you follow it?
SK: I am a big believer in following your own intuition. However, I also find guidance in the simple but powerful messages of the great prophets – Jesus, Krishna, the great yoga masters of india and the scriptures. We can use to guide us in our daily lives and businesses, if we focus on the simple truths of treating each other with love and compassion as fellow souls, rather than the misinterpretations by religious zealots and crazy politicians who want to silo the planet.
MK: What do you know about Ukraine?
SK: Ukraine is opening its boundaries to foreign investments in an effort to become a leading economy in central Europe. Their banking system is in better shape than ever, thanks to the reforms implemented since 2014 and I hear that the people are friendly, well-educated and hard-working. There is a great momentum and energy about the country.
Ukraine also boasts a rich cultural history, I am particularly excited to visit Kiev’s Monastery Of The Caves whilst I am here.
Sanjeev will take part in the Ukrainian Banking Forum, which is organized for the 7th time by Morten and Elena Kriek. In a panel that also consists of Maksym Nefyodov, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Timur Khromaev, Timur Khromaev, Head of The National Commission on Securities and Stock Market in Ukraine, Elena Velikaya, Owner, Adamant Capital and Alexander Pavlov, Head of FI Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, EBRD he will discuss the development of capital markets in Ukraine and the upcoming privatizations.
Other participants in the event include Olena Sukmanova, First Deputy Minister of Justice, Sergey Tigipko, owner of TAS Group, Kateryna Rozhkova, Deputy Governor at National Bank of Ukraine, Aivaras Abromavicius, Ukraine’s former Minister of Economy, Konstantyn Vorushylin, DGF Managing Director, Sergey Chernenko, CEO at FUIB, Tamas Hak-Kovacs, CEO at OTP Bank, Sergey Popenko, CEO at TAS Group, Anna Samarina, CFO at Privatbank, Yuriy Kostrobiy, Owner of Avistar and many others.
The event takes place on 11 and 12 October and a full agenda and list of speakers can be found on www.cisbankers.com