Khilan Ramani

10-Best-Business-Leaders-in-India-2024 logo

An Unconventional Journey to Wellness Leadership

Khilan Ramani

Managing Director,

Smartway Wellness

Destiny often unfolds its plans in the most unexpected ways, and in the case of Khilan Ramani, it led him on a remarkable journey from mechanical engineering to the forefront of the pharmaceutical industry. Khilan’s story is one of adaptability, vision, and a relentless commitment to improving healthcare accessibility for all.
A mechanical engineer by training, Khilan embarked on a transformative path in 2015, seamlessly merging his engineering acumen with pharmaceutical expertise. This bold step marked the genesis of his venture, Smartway Wellness, but his journey towards reshaping the wellness landscape began even before that.
Before the establishment of Smartway, Khilan played a pivotal role in propelling another company’s growth trajectory. Under his leadership, this organisation transcended regional boundaries, evolving from a presence in four states with an annual turnover of Rs. 58 crore to achieving a nationwide footprint, boasting a remarkable annual turnover of Rs. 360 crore. It was here that Khilan honed his strategic prowess, setting the stage for future achievements.
Smartway, under Khilan’s unwavering guidance as its managing director, achieved a remarkable milestone, touching an annual turnover of Rs. 193 crore. His innovative approaches to process optimisation and strategic collaborations with Team, retailers, stockists and CFA at the grassroots level played a pivotal role in this achievement, solidifying Smartway’s reputation as an industry trailblazer.
Khilan envisions Smartway as a pivotal contributor to the betterment of public health in India. His core vision revolves around offering accessible and cost-effective healthcare solutions, with a relentless focus on cardiac and diabetic care. He aspires to position Smartway Wellness as a catalyst for revolutionary advancements in these domains, emphasising innovation, sustainability, and societal well-being.
Yet Khilan’s mission extends far beyond profit margins. His commitment to social impact is the cornerstone of his leadership. He actively engages in philanthropic initiatives, from organising blood donations and medical camps to distributing free medicines to the needy. Moreover, he nurtures internal talent through the annual event ‘Udaan,’ fostering a culture of growth and recognition within the organisation. Khilan’s vision encompasses a comprehensive approach, addressing immediate healthcare requirements while actively participating in the upliftment of individuals and communities as a whole.
As we embark on this journey through Khilan’s story, we delve into the life of a leader who embraces destiny’s surprises and transforms them into a force for good. 

Tell us about your entrepreneurial challenges and how you overcame them.

In my entrepreneurial journey, adaptability has been paramount. Each quarter brought new opportunities and connections, aligning with our broader roadmap. One of the important examples of this is when serendipitously, we began representing three innovative software companies, garnering a tremendous market response. Openmindedness enabled our business model to evolve naturally, fostering collaborations with industry experts. We showcased adaptability when our solution portfolio transitioned to include agency / sales representation during a digital marketing discussion, highlighting our flexibility. Challenges arose during seeking a collaboration with global Design Thinking experts in leading universities like Stanford and MIT, but a networking connection led to a partnership with another highly respected innovation thought leader, highlighting the value of reaching out persistently and confidently. Steve Jobs’ philosophy reinforced the value of seeking support, exemplified by a LinkedIn connection providing timely guidance. In a phase of limited work and circular discussions, patience and self-belief paved the way for a successful outcome. This journey underscored the significance of continuous alignment with market signals, emphasising the power of agile evolution in fostering sustained success.

Can you summarise your consulting industry background and highlight key projects you've worked on?

I bring over 25 years of extensive consulting expertise gained from roles at PwC, IBM, and Ernst & Young. My focus has primarily been on strategic and operational performance improvement within the manufacturing sector (FMCG & Industrial goods), supplemented by experience in telecom/mobility and BFSI. Digital transformation has been a pivotal aspect of my projects, facilitating welcome and enduring change. Key projects include sales IT transformation for a leading FMCG company diversifying into multiple categories, e-commerce model implementation for traditional medicines, and crafting industry roadmaps for sectors like jute, natural rubber, and sponge iron. I’ve conducted strategy and diversification assessments for prominent pharmaceutical, metals, and mining companies and led operational enhancements in logistics, customer service, and supply chain for various industries. My academic background includes a PGDM from IIM, Ahmedabad, and a B.Tech. (Hons.) in Manufacturing Sc. & Engg. from IIT-Delhi, laying the foundation for my successful consulting career.

How do you solve complex business problems for clients? Can you share a successful solution you've implemented as an example?

I approach complex business problems innovatively, prioritising on-site research and interactions. I blend industry-leading practices with simplification, ensuring solutions are straightforward and easily adopted. Piloting and refining solutions based on real-world insights is crucial to promoting user adoption. Flexibility is key; if a different problem arises, I adapt collaboratively with clients. Clients appreciate the sincerity and effort invested in addressing challenges, even when some approaches require reorientation. In Destacto, our approach also has been to bring the best of consulting and industry expertise. For this, we have partnered with several industry leaders who bring the handson operational experience which blends very well with the consulting rigour and process orientation. Our clients have loved this combination, giving us a lot of encouragement.

How do you invest in your growth as a leader and professional? What specific areas are you currently prioritising for personal development?

I prioritise continuous technical learning, having completed a formal Design Thinking course at MIT. This not only provided exposure to the methodology but also a philosophy I deeply believe in. Additionally, I’m investing time in understanding startups from an investor’s perspective, enhancing my knowledge in this area through a dedicated course on investing in startups. Moreover, my focus extends to organisational change, building high-performance teams, and developing individuals. Addressing the shortage of the right skillsets in client organisations is crucial. I am committed to nurturing existing teams, complemented by strategic augmentation, to ensure sustained performance delivery. Continuous learning and strategic investments remain my core principles for personal and professional growth.

Describe your leadership approach and the principles that guide it.

I lead with an enabling, collaborative, and participative style. I invest additional hours to engage and align individuals, prioritising collaboration over coercion. I empower selfstarters by avoiding micromanagement and providing full support when they take risks. Mutual trust forms the foundation of my approach, eliminating the need for personal risk management activities. I fully support my team, covering them if challenges arise. My leadership principles were reinforced by positive experiences working with bosses who shared the same ethos of mutual trust and support.
















                                Error: Contact form not found.