Shaking the world through healthcare, entrepreneurship, and policy: a day’s work for Dr. Hathi
Dr. Sejal Hathi is a physician, public health advocate, and serial entrepreneur, who has dedicated her career to serving vulnerable communities in the United States and globally — with a special attention to women and girls. Presently, she serves as a primary care resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Clinical Fellow at Harvard Medical School.
In her early career, Dr. Hathi founded two non-profit organizations, Girls Helping Girls and girltank, that has mobilized over 30,000 young women to create sustainable social change in over 100 countries. Dr. Hathi has spoken about women’s rights and empowerment at TEDWomen, TEDxTeen and the United Nations. More recently, she served as a health policy advisor to Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and is the host of CivicRx, a podcast that features leaders in government, public health, culture, and technology who are shaping our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For her tremendous achievements, Dr. Hathi has won national awards from Newsweek (150 Women who Shake the World), Forbes Magazine (30 under 30 honorees), the National Jefferson Awards for Public Service, and the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation. Dr. Hathi received her MD/MBA from Stanford and her undergraduate degree from Yale, and serves on the boards of Indiaspora and The Arena.
Highlights of our conversation include:
- Fueled by the social determinant of health, Dr. Hathi engaged in higher level impact working as a health policy advisor for Mayor Pete Buttigieg. While medical schools may not teach students how to have a career in equity and policy, she encourages passionate individuals to seek grassroots activism, mobilize other students, and look for opportunities to contribute to politics.
- 3 pillars of success: Serendipity, Naivete, and Institutional Support. Dr. Sejal Hathi reflects on these three traits that have helped her accomplish her goals. You want to have the support of “gatekeepers of power” therefore, “you should seek out institutions that will abet your entrepreneurial endeavors.” Dr. Hathi found strength in having severe optimism — being confident that her idea would work.
- Being an effective leader: “Be authentic, own up to mistakes, be transparent about what’s difficult.” Have a theory of change — inspire the best in people around you through a set of values that you live by and are reflected in your work.
- Bullet journals, exercise and regular routines have helped Dr. Hathi navigate a busy life and achieve her goals nonetheless.
- “Vogue-ish company creation is not the way to go.” You need to have a clear idea of the problem you are trying to solve, and reflect on how you can best position yourself to provide a solution. Don’t be afraid of taking time away from school and committing to your venture.
“It is very easy to believe you are not enough and that you won’t be able to accomplish your goal due to lack of resources, intelligence or luck. But I would say that the biggest accomplishments come from making those baby steps every day. Make that commitment, and if you want to write a book, write a page every day. If you want to start a company, work on it for 20 minutes (at least initially) every day. Make that commitment to yourself. Make that daily investment in yourself, and over time it will pay dividends.”
Want to hear our conversation with Dr. Sejal Hathi? Check it out on Spotify and Anchor!
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Story written by Luiza Perez and Priya Kumar.