All of 23 and with a degree in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design ( RISD), Boston, USA, Manasi, the only child of her parents, is one of the youngest members of one of India’s oldest business families. A responsibility she wears with the same confidence that she wields the paintbrush. “I am their only child and I want to take what they have achieved to the next level. I have seen my parents struggle and work hard to succeed,” recalls Manasi, who got two whole days of rest before her father asked her to start work. “I got back with my degree on a Thursday and my parents asked me to join the office and come for a meeting on Monday.” That was barely a year ago. Today, as a member of the Board of Kirloskar Systems Ltd, she follows a schedule as hectic as theirs. Just after breakfast, Manasi drives her metallic- tangerine Toyota Corolla Altis for over an hour, from her home in Yelhanka near the airport, to the reach her office site at Sakra
SHE WANTS TO SET UP A SAKRA HOSPITAL CHAIN; THE FIRST ONE WILL BE READY THIS AUGUST
World Hospital in DB Halli, the other side of town. In a city that curses the traffic young Manasi seems to love the journey. “It is less boring to drive myself than be driven around,” she says. But, driven she is, in all other ways as well. “Growing up, I always wanted to be in the office and work. I grew up watching my parents work all the time yet they were always there for me,” she says. She remembers going for her first board meeting all excited and thinking it went great. “Maybe I was naïve at that moment and therefore not nervous,” Manasi also remembers a “sense of responsibility” setting in within a month.
With parents who are high achievers in academics, sports and business, Manasi now puts in more elbow grease than any other employee of Sakra Hospital. “People trust the Kirloskar name and I value that. I do not want to disappoint anybody,” she says. The best advice her parents gave her? “Work hard, be focussed and don’t give up on your dreams,” a mantra she holds close to her heart.
The Sakra multi- specialty hospital is a Kirloskar joint venture with Toyota Tsusho and Japan’s Secom Hospitals. Manasi wants to set up Sakra hospitals across India and the first one in Bangalore will be operational by August 2013. “I want to make Sakra the best hospital chain in the country, offering the highest level of quality health care. Our target is 20,000 beds in the next 10 years,” says Manasi.
The Sakra Hospital Bangalore,
prides itself on not segregating patient care and rooms into VIP or non- VIP categories. The senior nursing staff has been trained in Japan and the hospital management has a specific infection control plan put in place, even in the daily hospital operations.
“We have an elevator which only carries clean food, and another only for used food plates. One elevator only carries clean linen and another elevator which only carries used linen. These are the highest measures of infection control,” says Manasi who is at the site office every day. She sits at a regulation unadorned desk in an open plan workspace. On site visits, a pair of sneakers and a helmet accessorise her cotton salwar kurta as she hops over construction debris, monitoring final touches. It is an eye for detail that Manasi hopes to hone her business management skills with. Something she learnt back at art school. “They allowed you to exercise your minds in a different way. You analysed everything, learnt time management. They gave you a lot of work and only your work matters. Your surname does not matter,” recalls Manasi who though aware of her lineage knows she cannot take it for granted.
“She is very disciplined and comes for all the meetings,” says J. Velu, the deputy managing director at Sakra Hospital of his trainee, “she works hard and is dedicated.” Manasi is in the final stages of her training at the new hospital project. She has worked in various departments including project management and human resource. The formula at work is, “Be at the location of the problem to be able to solve it”.
However, Manasi’s artistic heart finds most pride and joy in creating the brand’s visual template. “I worked on the design template and on the interiors with the architects and am also working on the murals required for each floor,” she says, the happiness palpable when she talks colour.
Sakra Hospital has been named after the Japanese Sakura flower and Sacrum the human tail bone, and has been designed to be aflush with natural light. The colour gradient as seen from the atrium will go from dark to light. This is more than symbolic for Manasi, who says the colours help soothe and heal and handpicked the colour palate of blue, purple, pink and green. “These are soothing, healthy colours which are vibrant but mild,” she feels. Manasi traversed across town to meet suppliers electing tiles, paints, and textures and is now working on all the uniforms and furniture. So engrossed is Manasi at work, that her assistant Vasantha Muralidhar keeps a reminder on her phone for tiffin break. “I have to remind Manasi to eat her fruits, as she is a workaholic and often forgets,” says a concerned Vasantha.
Too much work for one so young? “I don’t think so,” says her mother Geetanjali, “you have to learn how to deal with pressure. You do not want to succumb to the pressure later on.” Geetanjali says she and her husband did throw their only daughter into the deep end to begin preparing her for her work life, but have also made sure life lessons are reiterated often enough. “You need to do productive things and not while away your time, you need to respect other people’s time and learn how to handle relationships,” is something Geetanjali often reminds Manasi.
“There are so many things I want to do, all my parents said was ‘ manage your time’ and do everything. I am inspired by my mother; she is available 24 hours to her people and is always focused. I do not want to be jack of all, I want to be king of all,” says Manasi.
She also recalls what her greatgrandfather S. L. Kirloskar taught her. “He said you never stop learning. He learnt how to ski at 70, learnt computers and how to fly a plane. I think I will
be training all my life.”
She also wants to paint all her life, for now she paints after work, “In our old apartment I painted in the balcony,” she says. She recently donated two large works ( titled Maintaining Confused and Excavation, both oil- on- canvas), at a charity auction in New York, the bids began at $ 1,000 each.
“I have no agents, I network and sell my paintings. At the Miami art fair I went around giving flyers to people. I had never promoted myself so aggressively,” she recalls. Manasi’s embarrassment paid off when she sold her first painting for $ 800. “I just made up a price on top of my head,” she laughs at the memory.
“My other passion is community service,” says Manasi who has taught art at Christel House Learning Centre in Bangalore at 13. “At 16 I taught at government schools with the Akshara Foundation’s project,” says Manasi. She has also crafted a course of activities under her ‘ Caring with Colours’ project, a name she will soon register. The objective, she says, is to develop a child’s analytical skills through art which will help them enjoy learning regular subjects. Inspired by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Azim Premji, and Narayana and Sudha Murthy, Bangalore’s foremost names in philanthropy and business, Manasi hopes she can make a difference too. “Kiran aunty has been an inspiration not just for her work, but also how she maintains relationships. My mother always says that remembering the little things is what makes a person great,” says Manasi. “Valuing what you have is
MANASI’S ARTISTIC HEART FINDS MOST PRIDE AND JOY IN CREATING THE BRAND’S VISUAL TEMPLATE
grounding,” echoes Geetanjali.
Like most of her friends, Manasi loves Hindi movies. “If I catch the firstday- first- show I am the happiest girl,” says this Salman Khan fan who has watched the 1989 blockbuster Maine Pyar Kiya, so many times she can’t put a number to it. “I love that he paints and raises money for his charity. I love the name Being Human,” she gushes.
Her own vision includes building a health care chain across the country. She eventually wants to set up a home for underprivileged children. “It will be attached to a school and the children will live in a family set up, with a ‘ parent’ for each group of six. They will go to college and get jobs.”
Even as she continues to add to her portfolio, Manasi loves spending her weekends painting and visiting her uncles, aunts, grandaunts, grandmothers and cousins in Bangalore and Pune. Family for her also includes her three dogs— Doodle, the temperamental and moody beagle, Midget the labrador who doubles up as her foot warmer and Gadget the attention- loving pug.
Sakra Hospital is scheduled to open this August and Manasi who will turn 24 then, wants to use any free time earned to teach art to underprivileged students. She says she will use the income from the sale of her own artwork to finance this project. This, of course, will be in addition to her regular work at the hospital. “I am restless, my yoga teacher tells me I need to calm down,” says Manasi adding, “I love swimming and will soon get my divers license.”
There is much more to be discovered and Manasi Kirloskar is all geared up for what promises to be an adventure.
Manasi with senior colleagues at work
( Left) With her parents at her graduation; And on vacation.
Manasi with her dogs Doodle and Midget