To say Ananth Narayanan has been ‘busy’ since his grad school days is an understatement. After receiving his master’s degree from the College of Engineering, his capacity for interdisciplinary thinking landed him a position as Director at McKinsey & Company. He’d later become CEO of Myntra, an online fashion marketplace.
Named one of India’s 40 Under 40 Hottest Business Leaders in 2014, Narayanan recently joined Medlife—the largest shareholder in the global e-health market—as Co-Founder and CEO. With his expertise, he and Founders Tushar Kumar and Prashant Singh hope to see a tenfold growth in the company over the next five years.
“At Myntra, I was able to do exactly that,” Narayanan said of the company’s rapid advancement during his tenure as CEO. “Medlife is making a positive social impact in healthcare and I’m excited to contribute to the company’s expansion.”
Narayanan attributes much of his passion for socially cognizant business to his master’s program at Michigan. During his time at Myntra, he facilitated conversations about reducing water consumption and implementing reusable packaging practices in the fashion industry.
“Michigan was a place that taught me to think critically about a successful business’s role in society. Now, at Medlife, social awareness is part of everything I do; the mission of the company is to improve health outcomes for people who currently face obstacles to receiving quality medical care.”
In terms of hard skills, the University helped Narayanan hone his knack for product development. He still remembers the class that piqued his interest in the subject.
“It was Integrated Product Development with Professor William Lovejoy,” Narayanan recalled fondly. “That class was the first time I’d really gotten the sense of product development, and how it’s such an interdisciplinary thing for us to be able to do.”
Interdisciplinary problem-solving is now central to Narayanan’s business mentality. Classes like Lovejoy’s reinforced his belief that resolutions to large-scale issues often exist at intersections between disciplines or skill sets.
“My positions at McKinsey, Myntra, and now Medlife have all required this integrative mindset. If you think about e-commerce, technology, and health companies, a lot of different functions need to come together,” he said.
“An interdisciplinary approach is especially salient at a company like Medlife. We think combining the Founders’ [Kumar and Singh] backgrounds in healthcare with my background in consumer technology will be really beneficial.”
Narayanan explained that centralization of healthcare in online marketplaces like Medlife’s might lead to increased communications between otherwise isolated sectors of the industry. This, he believes, is the future of healthcare.
“Through the use of data and technology, we can create India’s first completely electronic outpatient network, making the patient’s journey from consultation to pharmacy completely seamless,” Narayanan said.
Because of the University’s influence on his own path to business leadership, Narayanan continues to give back to the Michigan community in his roles as a mentor on Tauber’s Industry Advisory Board and a guest speaker at the Ross India Business Conference. At Myntra, he even hosted student cohorts from LSA Mathematics.
“I intend to host Michigan students at Medlife as well,” Narayanan said. “I look forward to eventually welcoming them here.”