While Harjit Gill doesn’t consider herself a rebel, she admits that she “certainly challenged things” around her. She attributes this to growing up as a second generation immigrant in the UK during the 1980s, where racism was rampant, and she had to learn to defend herself both verbally and physically.
The CEO of Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association (APACMed) since 2019, Gill’s focused on the cause. APACMed represents manufacturers and suppliers of medical equipment, devices and in-vitro diagnostics, industry associations and key industry stakeholders, and partners with them to improve outcomes for patients and healthcare access. (Meanwhile, read how Covid-19 has changed the way we work and play here.)
These can range from working with policymakers to enable sharing of best practices across regions, to nurturing med-tech start-ups and building capabilities through workshops and mentorships.
With Covid-19 having placed the medical industry front and centre, Gill’s work has become even more crucial. “Our current healthcare systems are not fit for purpose. We have limited access, ageing societies and new disease patterns emerging, so breaking the system is necessary in order to uncover real innovation,” says Gill, whose global career spans Europe, Dubai and Hong Kong.
What’s the Asia Pacific region dealing with, exactly? For one, it accounts for more than 60 percent of the world’s population. It’s also ageing rapidly — by 2050, it will account for two-thirds of the world’s 60-somethings.
There’s “still a lot to do in ensuring affordable healthcare access for all,” Gill points out, before reiterating that APACMed and its members will endeavour to do more to build capacity for change here.
For Gill — who is part of the YPO (Young Presidents’ Organization) community that comprises more than 30,000 chief executives across 142 countries — bringing about change in a post-Covid future also requires a change in leadership styles.
Today’s leaders must possess not only a strategic mindset to quickly pivot and shape new opportunities, but also a high degree of emotional intelligence and an understanding of how to leverage the best from very diverse teams.
Which brings us back to the issue of challenging the status quo. It is, as she says, “part of any leadership journey, especially in current times when companies need to be agile and able to reinvent themselves”.
Encouraging the younger ones to be a bit of a rebel, Gill further reckons, is helpful to nurturing our next generation of leaders. “We want them to be equally bold and disruptive in their thinking. Rather than resist or stifle such ambition, aligning ‘rebel’ mentalities can help create an environment conducive to fostering real innovation,” she says.
“My rule of thumb is never to operate under the constructs of binary decision making — it’s never about yes/no or right/wrong, but rather the spectrum of creative possibilities between them. There’s no leader more inspirational than one who’s found his/her passion, seeks to make an impact, and wants to upskill along the way.”