Challenge of a New Mother and die-hard Professional

She is the driving force behind the resurgent new-age chain of multi super-speciality Wockhardt Hospitals.


Delirium of sleep deprivation and adapting to being ruled by one tiny mouth, a women professional gets a new identity when of being a mother. Her priorities changes, suddenly.

She may still not recognise herself in the reflection of shop windows as she walks past with a stroller and diaper bag, but slowly, she will get to know the new herself. New mothers are often struggled with worries during their pregnancies, and certainly during that roller-coaster the first year with a newborn.

Meet Zahabiya Khorakiwala, managing director, Wockhardt Hospitals. A very focused and ambitious Zahabiya completed her graduation, Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Psychology from New York University and later on completed her Master’s in Business Administration from the Indian School of Business with specialisation in strategy and leadership.

A new mother, Zahabiya keenly shares her mantra of creating a balance between work and family. As the mother of two, she needs no telling of the struggles women undergo to maintain a work-life balance. She is a new breed of emerging young leaders in the landscape of India Inc.

She is the driving force behind the resurgent new-age chain of multi super-speciality Wockhardt Hospitals. As Managing Director, Zahabiya is responsible for strategic decisions and the overall operations of the hospital chain. The title also calls for her to be responsible for identifying new business opportunities and creating viable and sustainable business models to drive growth.

Like most women leaders, Khorakiwala too faces difficulties in managing her professional and personal life. Her team is a backbone for helping her to maintain a balance, she told. "As a mother (working or not), you always feel guilty about something when it comes to your child. But then, you make your choices and do the best you can to strike the right balance. I wouldn't want to not work either," said Zahabiya.

In the quest to help women manage both their intensely personal and professional demands, she brought sweeping changes in the way women are taken care of in her organisation.

She shared that “hospitality business has a lot of women. Top leadership positions are occupied by women at Wockhardt. Same opportunities are provided to men and women at the time of recruitment and promotion. There are no gender biases. Various   Internal programs are carried out for women to update their skills, the healthy work environment is provided to them. In Wockhardt, 58% employees are women .”

She believes that women who manage to grow in the ecosystem should make the path easier for the ones after them. It will give encouragement to other women to come forward.

Equality of opportunities and no gender biases are her goals in terms of creating opportunities for women in male bastion profile.

She feels that she is sometimes under pressure to perform or do things a certain way because so many people look up to her. She added, “ Actions speak much louder when you are holding a position of leadership.”

She told her kids keep her going when things get tough. she shared “my weekends are for them. I play with my kids that keep away from routine and is as good a stressbuster as any .”

She was conferred the title of ‘Most Promising Young Woman in Indian Business’ by Business Today, the India Today Group publication and also ABP News “Women Leadership Award in Healthcare”

Work-life balance and work-life integration can be hard to manage, but we women leaders like Khorakiwala who have figured out how to remain successful while still making time for their friends and family. Innovating for patient care is the bedrock of Wockhardt Hospitals, venturing into unchartered territory to take healthcare to tier-II cities, required foresight and medical expertise. Today, Wockhardt Hospitals are a growing chain of 9 multi super-specialty tertiary care hospitals in Gujarat, Central India, and Mumbai. A new-age 350-bedded super-specialty hospital housed in a 21-storeyed building in the heart of Mumbai has been commissioned.

“Responsibilities are larger when inheriting family business”, she shared. She follows a participative style of leadership, involving, listening, analysing different views before coming to any decision, she added. Zahabiya believes that Wockhardt Hospitals will continue to endeavor and benchmark quality healthcare both in India as well as globally. The core objective is to focus on innovation and contemporary medicine. The world-renowned Partners Medical International (erstwhile Harvard Medical International) has partnered with Wockhardt Hospitals in India for over a decade. This partnership has further evolved and Wockhardt Hospitals’ patients have benefitted from access to cutting-edge clinical knowledge and global medical acumen. Under Khorakiwala's watch, the company is remolding itself from providing tertiary healthcare to giving quaternary healthcare (highly specialised and not widely accessed healthcare). Zahabiya plans to capitalise on the opportunity that high healthcare cost in India coupled with low bed count offers and plans to open more specialty hospitals across the country.

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