A Visionary Leader’s Journey to Bring Quality Healthcare Access to Kenya and Beyond!
Imagine this: you or a loved one has fallen ill, and it’s not just a common cold. You’re facing a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention. In the midst of doctor’s appointments, tests, and discussions of treatment options, the overwhelming fear of the unknown sets in. How will you pay for it all? Will you have to compromise on the quality of care due to financial constraints?
In such moments, your focus should be on recovery, not on the financial burden that comes with it. A reliable health insurance plan gives you the peace of mind to focus on what truly matters—your health.
Nausheen Popat, the Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) of Lifecare International, recognized this crucial need and embarked on a remarkable journey to transform the health insurance landscape in Kenya and beyond.
Two decades ago, health insurance in Kenya was virtually nonexistent. However, Nausheen and her husband, Alniz Popat, both of whom had experienced firsthand the power of reliable health insurance in their own families, understood the immense value it could bring during times of need. With this vision in mind, they set out to make a difference.
At Lifecare International, Nausheen leads the charge as the CCO, overseeing all aspects of the company’s commercial function. Her responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of strategy and management, with a strong focus on business growth and retention. With over 25 years of experience, Nausheen has been instrumental in establishing and running commercial operations in multiple countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, and Qatar.
One of Nausheen’s exceptional achievements has been her pivotal role in securing and maintaining Lifecare’s ISO certification. Her dedication to operational excellence and her ability to forge strategic partnerships have played a vital role in Lifecare’s incredible 96% retention rate, a testament to her dedication and expertise.
Nausheen Popat’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of vision, persistence, and the drive to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Her work at Lifecare International not only offers comprehensive insurance solutions but also delivers peace of mind, ensuring that individuals and families across the Middle East and Africa can confidently face whatever challenges life may bring. She is not only a business leader but also an active member of YPO and the Dubai Business Women Council, continuing to inspire and empower others on their paths to success.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Could you please us about your company and its inception story?
Lifecare International is a leading insurance, health, and wellbeing advisor in the Middle East and Africa, offering a range of bespoke insurance and award-winning workforce care and wellbeing solutions. Over the last 30 years, Lifecare International has obtained a reputation for excellence and continues to serve a very simple purpose: to help everyone protect and care for those that matter most. Addressing the needs of large corporations, SMEs, and individuals, Lifecare employs over 150 workforce members across the UAE, Qatar, and Kenya, delivering value in the medical insurance, general insurance, and life insurance lines.
Having deep ties to the international medical insurance industry, we work with over 40 insurers across the market. Lifecare is equipped with a 24/7 Concierge, Doctors Helpline, and Emergency Assistance Desk, the company values lifetime relationships and is consumed by the passion to deliver extraordinary care at a time when it is needed most.
Our secret to keeping our customers happy has been to be caring and supportive of their needs and emotions at every step of their journey with Lifecare. Lifecare prides itself on integrity, superior customer relationship management, and support, and displays a high level of empathy and compassion toward clients. Lifecare’s incredible 96% retention rate is a testament to these company values, as they serve as the backbone of our corporate culture. Furthermore, our retention rate is a testament to client satisfaction, who repeatedly renew their contracts to continue reaping the benefits of excellent care and customer service.
What strategies do you employ to drive revenue growth and enhance the company’s commercial performance?
Lifecare is a family-run company that leads with family values. That being said, our number one priority is caring for our workforce and people; nothing is more important than this, as revenue growth and commercial results are direct results of your workforce. Our mission is to deliver unmatched care, both externally and internally, and when delivered across your people, you can never fall short because they then amplify that care externally—to clients and partners alike. Our dedicated team ensures our clients are given guidance at every step of the way, often during a health crisis when it is needed most.
Furthermore, we value lifetime relationships with clients, as indicated by our promise: we care for you for life. Our happy clients tend to stay with us year after year after realizing the value we bring, which has resulted in referrals from their own networks. This has been an extremely large growth area for us over the years.
Business growth has also been largely brought about by our unique and complimentary value-added proposition, CURA. We realized that, while extremely important, sometimes just insurance coverage isn’t enough, which led to its inception. CURA enables our clients to access immediate, international, round-the-clock, and real-time medical, security, travel, care, assistance, and support services. The partners we have selected for the CURA portfolio are the best of their kind. The spectrum of benefits includes everything, including pro-active health and well-being, time-saving digital tools, crisis response, fast-track services, cost-containment initiatives, wellness screenings, and much more.
How do you identify and capitalize on new business opportunities in the market, and can you share some examples of successful partnerships or collaborations that you have initiated to expand the company’s market presence?
Lifecare’s approach is consultative, not just sales and transactional. New business opportunities have come from a range of avenues, often through referrals from existing clients who are grateful and satisfied with the level and quality of services. We have also formed associations with niche groups such as doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs, to name a few. Other initiatives have included working with allied partners, introducers, and industry events and leveraging online platforms to form these partnerships.
With over 3 decades of operation and as one of the first distributors of international insurance products in Kenya, the UAE, and Qatar, we have deep ties into the International Premium Medical Insurance market, which has established our credibility and expertise in the industry, paving the way for enhanced collaboration and partnerships.
How do you ensure effective communication and alignment between the sales, marketing, and business development teams?
As the CCO, ensuring effective communication between the sales, marketing, and business development teams falls under my remit. We operate with a commitment to working in teams rather than silos and adopt frequent communication through leveraging digital platforms and consistent update and feedback meetings. In my experience, the only way to ensure effective communication is through establishing clear objectives and KPIs, communicating new developments, reinforcing teamwork through company culture, and providing training, support, and encouragement to team members on an ongoing basis.
What metrics do you use to measure the success of your commercial initiatives, and how do you track and analyze these metrics?
The success of commercial initiatives can be measured through both quantitative and qualitative methods. As a niche broker, our clients are not just a number; rather, we pride ourselves on strong client relationships and guide them every step of the way, while truly valuing their feedback as a qualitative metric. In addition to this, we measure ourselves against KPIs that are set on a quarterly basis, alongside the strategy set for the year. In our mission to remain agile, we also adapt our strategy based on external influences or changing market dynamics. As a tech-enabled company, we leverage several digital tools to track and analyze these results and, more importantly, determine the best way forward.
How do you stay updated with the latest market trends and customer preferences to inform your commercial strategies?
Market intelligence is an extremely important way to ensure you remain relevant and current, not just in the way you conduct business but also in conversations with clients. Market intelligence and trends are brought about by our deep relationships with insurance providers, in addition to our in-house communications department that prepares and shares monthly intelligence reports, which keep our entire workforce updated on the evolving landscape both locally and internationally. I often attend events, roundtables, and strategic discussions with industry peers and market leaders to continuously learn and stay updated.
Client feedback is at the core of our business. Through tracking survey responses, client servicing, claims data, and client testimonials, we often enhance our solutions and CURA proposition to ensure we don’t just meet what our clients need; rather, we go above and beyond. Remaining agile is a combination of adopting client feedback in conjunction with leveraging in-house expertise and experience.
How do you foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement within the commercial team?
Fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement is extremely important to the organization and begins with a top-down culture, enabled by our leadership team, which aims to lead by example. We seek to create a culture of curiosity where we encourage team members to begin initiatives, participate in change discussions, engage in cross-functional collaboration and knowledge-sharing, and embrace calculated risk-taking. We invest in the development of our A players and those who demonstrate curiosity and the desire for lifelong learning by promoting various courses and educational opportunities that enable learning and innovation.
What qualities do you believe are essential for a Chief Commercial Officer to possess in order to drive business growth and success?
Essential qualities for a CCO would include having a strong ethical foundation, empathy, fairness, understanding cultural nuances, and valuing diversity in all its forms: gender, nationality, ideas, opinions, and approaches. Embracing diversity isn’t just the right thing to do; it has been proven time and time again that it leads to better commercial outcomes and makes good business sense. As an organization run by over 60% women, we have witnessed the value it brings. The skills that have enabled me to be a CCO are strategic thinking, leadership, adaptability, analytical thinking, and customer-centricity.
Furthermore, valuing lifetime relationships extends beyond clients and applies internally within our workforce. Through inspiring, motivating, empowering, and mentoring your team, you can truly develop and retain talent, as evidenced by the tenure of the Lifecare team, with numerous members serving for over 10 years in an industry that typically has a high turnover rate.
Please give us a few testimonials from your clients and awards or recognition that accurately highlight your achievements in the corporate niche.
Our testimonials are publicly available via Google reviews; a few are mentioned below:
- Testimonial 1: Lifecare has been instrumental in providing our employees with the much-needed resources to ensure that our emotional well-being is balanced and healthy. Special thanks to our Lifecare RM, who made sure we avail of Lifecare’s Value Proposition! Kudos to the Lifecare Team!
- Testimonial 2: The Lifecare International team is very supportive and approachable. They go above and beyond with their welfare activities and services. A lot of engagement activities and wellness programs are arranged by the team. Overall, the service is excellent. Keep up the good work!
- Best Workplace Wellbeing Advisors, The UK Health & Protection Awards 2023
- Best International Individual Client Advice Firm, The UK Health & Protection Awards, 2023
- Best Use of Loyalty and Rewards Programs to Enhance Customer Happiness, Customer Happiness Summit & Awards, 2023
- Customer Happiness Team of the Year, Customer Happiness Summit & Awards, 2023
- Top Performer: Individual Client Retention, Bupa Global, 2023
- Top Producing Broker: Middle East and Africa, Cigna, 2023
- Outstanding Contribution to Corporate Social Responsibility” award, Allianz, 2023
- Allianz Summit Sales Champion Award Qatar, Allianz, 2023
- Best Employer Brands, Middle East Leadership Awards, 2023
- Best Community Impact Initiative (Gold), Employee Happiness Summit & Awards, 2023
- Delivering Customer Happiness in Times of Crisis: Going Above and Beyond, Customer Happiness Summit & Awards, 2022
- Best Use of Loyalty and Rewards Programs to Enhance Customer Happiness, Customer Happiness Summit & Awards, 2022
- Best Corporate Health Insurance Brokerage, UAE, CFI, 2022
- Business Integrity Award by the British Chamber of Commerce in Kenya
- Think Business Insurance Awards 2022, 2nd Runner Up, The Most Customer-Centric Broker in Kenya
- Rising Star SME, Cigna, 2022