November 30, 2022

A well-known and respected venture founder, speaker and author, Azran Osman-Rani builds disruptive businesses that challenge the status quo.
His latest venture, Naluri, established in 2017, is a digital health therapeutics company that uses AI to augment professional care for chronic diseases and mental health, to make care more accessible and affordable for all. Headquartered in Malaysia, Naluri’s programmes are localised to support multi-national organisations across Southeast Asia, through local, registered professionals and support in seven languages.
Prior to Naluri, Azran held leadership roles at some of the region’s most prominent companies, including iflix Malaysia, AirAsia X, Astro All Asia Networks, Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, and at McKinsey & Company. Author of 30 Days and 30 Years: The Sprint and Marathon of Breakthrough Performance, he also mentors high-growth companies, invests in technology start-ups, as well as competes in Ironman triathlons.
In an exclusive interview with HRO, he shares timeless lessons on resilience, managing and scaling the workforce, and advocating empathetic leadership styles.
Q What an inspiring career you’ve had – building and scaling iflix, pioneering low-cost long-haul commercial aviation, and growing Astro’s portfolio regionally, to name a few – yet you’ve always maintained that you’ve never had a long-term career plan, rather just needed a place to start. What are some of the most memorable and timeless lessons you’ve learnt during this career journey?
I’ve learned that nothing goes according to plan.
I’ve also learned that choosing the right team matters more than fussing about getting the business plan right.
Q Over the past five years, you’ve built Naluri from scratch into an evidence-based digital health solution that helps organisations predict, prevent, and manage chronic diseases and mental health conditions. Do share some milestones that you and the team are particularly proud of.
There have been several and each of these is an affirmation that we’re heading in the right direction. For example:
Q You’ve always advocated that employers need to change the culture at the workplace to make health a collective responsibility. Could you highlight some best practices or case studies that have worked well in delivering business outcomes, through your experience across Southeast Asia?
We have observed the most notable changes when company executives (including the CEO) learn more empathetic leadership styles through our programmes and then commit to providing a psychologically safe work environment for their team.
This is done through a series of facilitated virtual and in-person workshops where leaders can share their challenges and learn how to improve their own mental fitness and resilience, as well as skills that would make them effective mental health first-aid or early responders, for which they are certified.
Similarly, what works well is when companies offer annual flexi-benefits allowances to employees which can be traditionally used for things like dental, optical, or gym memberships and employees then choose to opt-in to a Naluri Health Improvement Programme.
If that employee then commits to a quantifiable health improvement, such as, say, a 5% weight loss, 10 mmHg blood pressure improvement or 1% HbA1c improvement, the company would credit that allocation back to the employee, creating aligned incentives between employee, employer, and Naluri.
Q What are some barriers that you and your team experience while challenging the status quo around health & resilience, and how do you plan to tackle them?
We are convinced that we must hire healthcare professionals (HCPs) as employees of Naluri and train them on our proprietary care protocols and digital and analytical tools – rather than a typical marketplace model where HCPs are mere independent agents. This ensures a higher level of commitment that translates into much higher productivity.
As we expand geographically, the challenge is to continue to recruit high-calibre, committed professionals in each country because they must have the necessary local professional certifications.
We overcome this challenge by working closely with the relevant professional membership bodies or organisations in each country to connect with HCPs who are interested to learn a new model of digital care.
Q Naluri has recently secured a US$7mn pre-series B funding round which has been earmarked for strategic expansion in Thailand and further bolstering the company’s operations in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Tell us what employers in the region can look forward to, as a result.
Q To end, give us your best advice! What’s one habit you’d urge people to start, one to stop, and one to continue in order to build stronger mental resilience?
Start: Measure sleep quality and strive for five nights of high-quality sleep per week.
Stop: Simultaneous multi-tasking – jumping from one app to another, one device to another, every few seconds reacting to notifications that pop up. Instead, batch process tasks in chunks of 15-30 minutes.
Continue: Regular daily or weekly check-ins by asking team members how they are feeling.
Photo / Naluri
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