Modest leader trail-blazing for ethnic women
This was the call of 2016 YE Entrepreneur finalist Ranjna Patel when congratulated on her outstanding achievements.
While not the overall winner on October 15, the Aucklander is the first ethnic woman to be a finalist in the prestigious YE Entrepreneur of the year award. According to Patel, it took three years of gentle coercion from supportive colleagues to encourage her to enter the award programme, and overcome her modesty and desire to remain under the radar.
This despite her being the founder and director of New Zealand’s largest independent primary health care group, Nirvana Health Group.
Her work began in Otara in 1977 when Ranjna and husband Dr Kantilal Patel acquired a small medical practice there. Since then she has been pivotal in the practice’s development and growth into a network of 55 sites across New Zealand and Australia serving over a million patients a year.
While altruistic by nature, Patel concedes that by entering award programmes she can ‘‘be an example to hundreds of ethnic believe everything you women out there doing amazing things’’.
‘‘By participating in these awards programme I am taken out of my comfort zone but it is important to set an example, to be a role model,’’ she says.
Patel says that she has shown that despite not having a formal tertiary education, success is possible. She has developed skills required for situations as they have arisen.
‘‘I also don’t try to do everything, instead I hire the best people in their field for the job to deliver in areas where I don’t have the expertise’’. Patel believes this is a factor that has contributed to the success of the practice.
Ascot Gynaecology specialist Dr Anil Sharma says Patel’s achievements are extraordinary both in business and in community service. ’’She must be an inspiration to New Zealanders and New Zealand women, especially those from recent migrant communities,’’ he says.
In 2014, in recognition of her business acumen Patel was inducted into the New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs. Previously, in 2009 she was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for her services to the Indian community.
Ranjna Patel has worked in health management in Auckland since the 1970’s.