New Zealand’s newest Fulbright Scholar Manoj Patel is a bit of a puzzle – a medical doctor with a business bent wanting to revolutionise health IT worldwide.

The 28-year-old Aucklander, educated at The University of Auckland, has recently been awarded the $US100,000 Fulbright Platinum Triangle Scholarship in Entrepreneurship at a special Beehive event in Wellington, and will attend Harvard Business School’s MBA programme in Boston for the next two years.

Manoj, who graduated from the University’s School of Medicine in 2005 and was chief executive of the student-initiated entrepreneurial challenge Spark, beat tens of thousands of applicants from around the world for one of the positions on offer this year and is believed to be just the 25th Kiwi to be accepted for the MBA programme at Harvard.

“My approach is a bit unusual, in that I’m a medical doctor with an intense interest in business, which is a combination I believe can allow me to help many more people than I would have been able to do as a doctor alone,” Manoj said.

“There is significant opportunity for people who can appreciate both health and business, and my focus will be to address international health challenges through the application of innovative technology solutions. 

“I not only want to help improve systems in countries like New Zealand, but also in developing nations such as India, where my family originates.”

Currently working in Palma, Spain, for New Zealand company Orion Health International as a clinical lead for an internationally significant electronic health record project, Manoj also co-directs the website www.scrubs.co.nz which supports junior doctors to achieve a work/life balance, and promotes quality of care and retention of doctors in New Zealand. Scrubs is about to expand with the launch of two additional websites for pharmacists and optometrists in the coming months.

When Indian Weekender met with him at his Blockhouse Bay home, Manoj was busy preparing for his trip back to Spain where he will continue working until he relocates to Harvard in September. He chose Harvard because it was close to Boston, which is the hub of medical research, he said. The medical profession fascinated Manoj ever since he was a boy when he was hospitalised for a knee injury. That’s when I decided to become a doctor.

“But as you know we come from a traditional business family. So there was always to home the business side as well and that’s what has got me started on this journey,” he told Indian Weekender. Manoj turned 28 this week.

As well as being selected as one of 24 young leaders to participate in the Future Leaders Programme at the New Zealand Leadership Institute, Manoj visited Japan last year as part of a Future Business Counterparts Programme and has played senior men’s hockey for the New Zealand Indian Under-23 team.

He is the third Spark-affiliated student in four years to win a Fulbright Platinum Award for Entrepreneurship,

“Manoj has been accepted into the world’s most renowned business school, and New Zealand should be extremely proud of him.  I have no doubts that he will be part of this country’s future leadership,” Business School commercial director Geoff Whitcher said.