entrepreneurs plan for many worst-case scenarios – but a management buyout that ousts them from the company is not usually one of them. That was the extraordinary situation Dr Michael Tan found himself in on 24 September 2012.
Then barely 40 years old, the first-time entrepreneur – who set up Fullerton Healthcare in 2010 with friend and Parkway East Hospital colleague Dr Daniel Chan – was unexpectedly laid off as CEO for 137 days. “A family office invested in us when we started and it was a bit of a shock when they wanted to exit barely six months after, when it was meant to be a fiveyear commitment. They just wanted to cash out,” recounts Dr Tan of the drawn-out situation that culminated in his dismissal. The episode tested his confidence, and also his conviction in doing what he believed in: making high quality healthcare accessible and affordable.
This was the cause that had him step away from the well-paying job as the CEO of Parkway East Hospital, from promises of promotion and other lucrative offers, and the stability of being a paid employee. He and Dr Chan – both doctors who progressed from seeing patients to managing health-care facilities – had observed the industry for decades from different sides, and believed that they could fill a gap in a market where prices are constantly on the rise.
“We listened to our clients and saw that the health-care systems could be made more efficient and effective,” Dr Tan, 43, says of the motivation behind founding the corporate healthcare provider.