I was born and raised in India. My father passed away when I was just six months old, leaving my mom a young widow with two children. We had few resources, so we joined my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — 15 altogether — in a small one-bedroom apartment where we learned to be together and help one another.
My elder sister would teach me math, and I would teach my cousins in turn. Home is where I developed this sense of responsibility to community and society, along with a rather optimistic outlook on life. These early experiences taught me that changing one’s future requires being open to change - to adapting and reinventing oneself.
Moving to Indiana in 2001 to earn my MBA was definitely a change. I stood out and had to deal with some narrow mindsets, especially in a post 9/11 environment where something as simple as the color of my skin would make some people uncomfortable. But I never hesitated to engage others in a discussion or a debate.
Now that I have my own family, I encourage debate with my children by taking a stance on some political or philosophical issue and making counterpoints just to be provocative. Not for the sake of disagreeing, but rather as a way to encourage my family to examine and appreciate a multitude of viewpoints.
This attitude carries over into my professional life, where I’m willing to work with the best ideas from wherever they might arise. Sometimes, I challenge our teams on their thinking even though I am in agreement with them, to pressure-test the ideas and so that we hear diverse perspectives. This usually leads to achieving results that are sustainable and leave an impact.
Working with our patients as a part of my job inspires me a lot. Many of them have significant health challenges, and yet are very resilient and determined. If you are having a difficult day, hearing their stories helps you become more optimistic and positive.