Humble Beginnings to Red Carpets
On Thursday night the 3fivetwo Group will be represented in Dublin at the 2016 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards by two men who have transformed the company from a little known practice at 352 Lisburn Road in Belfast to the largest private healthcare provider in Northern Ireland.
3fivetwo Entrepreneurs Nominated for National Business Accolade
Tonight the 3fivetwo Group will be represented in Dublin at the 2016 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards by two men who have transformed the company from a little known practice at 352 Lisburn Road in Belfast to the largest private healthcare provider in Northern Ireland.
This is the 30th edition of the prestigious EY awards, which honour the men and women across the world who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses.
Directors Dr. Suresh Tharma and Mr. Ashok Songra have been working together for over a decade. During that time there have been many highs and lows but all of them milestones, and each one has helped shape both the 3fivetwo Group and the two men that will walk out onto the red carpet at the ceremony.
The 3fivetwo Group Marketing team met up with both Directors (take out) to learn more about their relationship with the Company and with each other. In fact, it is a testament to their ‘down to earth’ approach that when we asked where they would like to go for lunch prior to our interview their choice was Nandos…because Dr. Tharma wanted to use his new Nandos loyalty card!
Certainly the memory stories they tell us is of how they, the other Company Directors and their families would sit up late into the night licking, sticking and stamping envelopes containing the first tender propositions that the Group applied for. What’s more is that when they won that first contract it was for plastic surgery, however, there was a snag. At the time the 3fivetwo Group did not actually employ any plastic surgeons and so the two of the company’s simple roots still rests fondly at the front of their minds; one of the first men had to go on a hunt for a team before the contract came into action!
Q: The nomination for this award is a culmination of over a decade of work, what have you learnt in that time?
A: Amongst others such as cash flow management etc. the single most important thing you can do at the start is to get the very best people who possess all the different skillsets required. On top of that it is essential to learn to delegate because these people will have skills that you may not and it is vital to learn to trust them and their abilities in order to grow a company.
It’s safe to say we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all the staff, nurses, consultants that have supported us and helped us grow over the past decade. It is truly a testament to the trust within the company that we all work for the good of the company following the same vision.
S: I think looking back there were times in the early days when we were just burning ourselves out trying to do everything. There was one night in our first residency when myself, Ash and Carol (Contracts Director) had just finished a whole day’s work and we were all huddled in the tiny bathroom late into the evening trying desperately to unclog the toilet! Now we’ve learnt to perhaps delegate that task to someone with the necessary skills.
Q: And what would you say you’ve learnt from each other?
A: Suresh and I are very, very different but the combination we bring is essential. We’ll never always agree but we can usually come to a joint conclusion together and what is so very important is that I would trust Suresh with my life because I know whatever decision he makes will not be to the detriment of me or the company.
S: You have to build on the relationship you have to work at it, it just doesn’t happen. You learn each other’s strengths and each other’s weaknesses and then you learn to trust each other. We’ve definitely learnt together that hard work doesn’t guarantee success in this work, unlike perhaps in medicine, and neither of us are business men but we’ve learnt our trade together.
A: I mean, going back we even had to learn how to make graphs!
Q: As the company expanded, the 3fivetwo family expanded, what makes the relationships within the company unique?
S: We are a young company with young energetic people and we want to give those involved an opportunity to grow within the company, we believe strongly in this and it’s what helps grow from humble beginnings to what we have now.
A: Business is about people and relationships, not structures. So we do consider ourselves very loyal and we value our relationships, which makes humility and humbleness very important.
Q: Throughout the journey are there any highlights or defining moments that stand out between the two of you?
S: The first defining moment was winning our first contracts which really changed us from a small consultancy business to putting us on the healthcare provider ladder. But to get there we had to work endless days and nights just to get the opportunity to get near the ladder.
A: We had no tendering experience, none of the infrastructure or facilities outside of our rooms, we had to use other hospitals and yet we managed to get our first tenders and that made us think, why not go full spectrum? To go from there to becoming the largest private healthcare provider in Northern Ireland and now to be nominated by Ernst and Young to be one of the 24 finalists in Ireland, is THE defining moment.
S: Buying Kingsbridge and starting from scratch was a massive risk but has put us on a different level and from there that gave us the experience to be able to make the move over to Sligo in the south as well.
A: The next move is now to move across the water to interact with the wider NHS and England and we really want to transform ourselves over there, so things are exciting ahead.
I hope you will join us all in wishing Dr. Tharma and Mr. Songra all the best of luck this evening. To find out if they can clinch the award, catch the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards tonight, live on UTV from 22:40.
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Next week we will have a follow up piece on the EY 2016 experience so far, what it has delivered and what outcomes this will have for the Group