Member Spotlight: Mitali Paul, MHA, MBA, FACHE

Tell us about your background and what inspired you to pursue a career in healthcare.

Growing up in India, I always wanted to be a physician. Watching my mother as a family practitioner, inspired me to seek a career in healthcare. During undergrad, my father passed away and that changed the trajectory of my life completely. I’m one of 3 siblings. Our family was in financial dire straits and we had to reinvent ourselves. I stumbled upon healthcare administration and it seemed to be the route that brought me back to healthcare. It allowed me to use my leadership and business acumen while making a difference. The career choice was a risk since the field was just emerging then in India, but I am so glad I followed my passion! I couldn’t imagine doing anything else despite the challenging journey that got me where I am today.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I don’t have a lot of free time between my role at Houston Methodist, serving as adjunct faculty at Texas Woman’s University, and my volunteer work with ACHE (besides being a mother to 2 very active young kids)! I love spending time with family – traveling and exploring the outdoors and cooking. I make time for training in a classical Indian dance form, Kathak. It keeps me grounded in my cultural heritage and is “me” time.

What was the best piece of advice that you received from a mentor throughout your administrative career?

Early on in my career a mentor said to me – “You have a fire in your belly that’ll take you places, never let it die”. She identified something in me that I hadn’t realized I had – grit. Tenacity or perseverance doesn’t just come naturally, it needs to be cultivated and I know her words resonate with me even after almost 2 decades! That “fire” has seen me through all of life’s hardships and I’m grateful to keep it fueled.

What helped you most when preparing for the Board of Governors’ Exam?

I decided to take the exam early on in my career as it was a personal goal. An ACHE mentor helped me prepare by connecting me with subject matter experts in the competency areas that I needed the most help in. I registered for the exam so I had a date to work towards, and then I stayed focused and allotted time to study/prepare weekly. Although I didn’t join a study group, I know that has been helpful for many others.

What is the biggest challenge that you face as a healthcare leader?

Recruitment and retention of talent are two of the biggest challenges any leader is facing in the industry currently, and it will continue to be a focus for the immediate future.

What additional advice would you give an early careerist who would like to become a healthcare leader?

Follow your passion and stay true to your authentic self; know your strengths and differentiate yourself, be intentional in building your toolkit; don’t be afraid to take risks (bigger the risk, greater the reward); define and design your own success (it is not a race so find your own pace); cultivate your network one relationship at a time; and opportunity comes to those who are ready for it so always be ready! Interview by Simran Khadka

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