2023 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Satchi Hiremath, Indiana University (Kelley)

Satchi Hiremath

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Age: 60

“I’m a curious, highly motivated, and empathic individual surrounded by art that meets everyone where they are.”

Hometown: I grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, but I have lived in River Hills, Wisconsin for about 20 years – and I love it. We all know that the “Midwest nice” is real. This is what drew me back after leaving my first practice in California. Midwesterners are not only polite, but they’re also straightforward people.

Family members: My mother, my immediate siblings, my sister, my two brothers, and their extended families, as well as my two closest friends are my family. We’re a very tight-knit group with family reunions every year. On major holidays, everyone gathers; we all fly or drive in and prioritize our time together. My mother lives in Chesterton, IN, near Valparaiso. During residency weekends for the Physician MBA Program, I visit her on a Wednesday to stay and have dinner. And then I’ll leave from there to Indianapolis on Thursday, making the reverse commute when the residency classes are completed.

Fun fact about yourself: I like to make people laugh.

Undergraduate School and Degree: I attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. I completed my radiology training at the Cleveland Clinic and an interventional radiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins.

Where are you currently working?  I’m the System Vice President and Physician Executive for all Service Lines within Advocate Midwest.

As the principal physician executive for the 12 service lines in the Midwest Region, I lead a team to ensure integrated, high-quality, cost-effective care across all service lines within the 28 hospitals and 500 ambulatory sites of care. There are 6,000 clinicians within the Advocate Aurora Medical Group. My duties include clinical programming and strategy in cancer, cardiovascular, neurosciences, orthopedics, primary care, women’s health, medical specialties, surgical specialties, hospital-based specialties, behavioral health, pediatrics, and urgent care.

Extracurricular activities, community work, and leadership roles: I’m an equestrian, and almost every Saturday I’m not working or on call, I ride an Arabian horse, English Hunting Saddle style. I’m also an avid international traveler, traveling worldwide, including to Europe more than 50 times. I also sponsor an international scholarship for teacher training of dyslexic students in India. The scholarship trains an educator for a year, like a fellowship, teaching them to communicate and how to educate dyslexic children.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  Once the classroom work was complete, I appreciated the impromptu gatherings and cocktails with my fellow students and colleagues. Everyone relaxed; they weren’t necessarily talking about classes or projects. They were talking about their own lives. I was lucky that my class was very social compared to others. It was common to see private parties hosted by people who lived in town. Two people recently invited the entire class to dinner on the Thursday before residency. Rich Zellers lives in town and often hosts people in his backyard. Those organic gatherings in different environments, where people showed you another side of their personality, were my favorite. Even during the Global Healthcare Experience, groups formed spontaneously and changed throughout the day. And it was a way to expose yourself to various people. After the program for the day was over, small groups had their separate dinners. Students would gravitate back to the Hotel’s cocktail lounge and keep those bars open beyond closing hours. People didn’t want to leave because they enjoyed the camaraderie and conversations.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I had responsibility for all clinician staffing across 28 hospitals for 18 months. The oversight included every emergency room, every hospital ward, every intensive care unit, as well as specialty clinician services. I had the privilege to lead teams that managed it all; it was an enormous group effort. Those 18 months were intense and focused on critical work. It was an honor to lead the clinical workforce with the dual obligation of keeping clinicians and patients safe in an ever-changing environment of science and supplies. It was humbling to be trusted to make the best decisions in keeping them safe while utilizing their skills in non-traditional roles. For example, I had transplant surgeons acting as transporters because there were no transplant surgeries to perform. These clinicians didn’t want to stay home and told me, “I want to help. I’ll transport patients but give me something to do.” With no elective surgeries, anesthesiologists were running ICUs and teaching others about safe intubation techniques and prone positioning. COVID-19 hit us hard, impacting our staffing levels. We had many gaps. Looking back, it’s one of the crowning achievements of my career and helped define what I and others were capable of doing.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I have two who had a significant impact on my time at Kelley. Amrou Awaysheh, associate professor of operations and supply chain management, is always prepared and enthusiastic. He likes to be amongst people and applies the Socratic method of challenging his students. Many people don’t teach that way anymore, but he challenges you while standing amongst you. That’s what actual Socratic teaching is about; very few instructors do that.

Most like the podium and chose a didactic approach with the PowerPoint slides. For example, one exercise we did was creating an assembly line where you make little paper airplanes. It was so interesting to have adult doctors building airplanes. Still, it teaches you so much about yourself and your team members. I thought it was fantastic and knew I was amongst the best.

Ken Carow, professor of finance, was a favorite of mine as well. He has a deep understanding of macroeconomics and knows how to teach it in a way like my physician training. He’s talented at building on a story over time – using fundamental building blocks. This principle applies to finance in which adding one layer upon another allows you to solve complex problems. Eventually, you’re going to see how we built this tower. He’s a professor who has deeply understood learning and knows what methods are effective for guiding students to solutions. It was evident in how he configures classes and readings. He handed you templates and asked you to iterate on them, to solve multipart problems. It wasn’t about Excel or math, but about concepts, processes, and applications to address real world questions that we would face as physician leaders.

That’s had the most enduring effect on me because it was hard work. Don’t get me wrong; it was probably the most challenging class. But I never felt unprepared and easily followed his logic and approach. It’s like an athletic coach sometimes pushing you to practice when you hate it. You understand why the coach is driving you. It sharpened my abilities. Ken allowed for interruptions or shortened specific segments because he wanted people to discuss and work through questions. And the cherry on top was he laughed at his finance jokes.

Why did you choose Kelley’s Physician MBA program? It’s related to my life and career stage; I wanted a physician-only program. Suppose I was 30 and chose Kellogg School of Management or Chicago Booth. In that case, I may decide that being inside medicine is not the best way to influence healthcare. So, the connection to large corporations like Clorox or Northwestern and executives from different disciplines makes sense in choosing that type of program and may change the career trajectory of a younger physician.

At this point in my career, I am committed to improving the healthcare system from the inside. Therefore, being with other physicians made sense because I knew the focus would be on the healthcare. I didn’t need extensive lessons from manufacturing, for example. It wasn’t going to help me necessarily, because the construct I work in is human lives and systems of care. There are certainly lessons from workflow, efficiency and possibly automation. There’s a certain unpredictability when dealing with patients and those that deliver care. Kelley introduced a new tool set in problem-solving. We’re in the business of medicine, which is unique and unlike any other. This country’s healthcare system is broken but requires the talent of clinicians with a different lens to innovate solutions for patients while preserving the dignity of those charged with their care. I also like the fact that the program is a hybrid setup with in-person learning.

The best part of business school is working and learning amongst your peers. This is missing in an online program. Zoom cannot replace three-dimensional human interaction. It was invigorating that professors wanted to teach in this program. Physicians are unique students with years of disciplined learning. They are individuals who seek solutions for their patients, colleagues, and the systems the work within. Life-long learning is vital to us. Knowing that the curriculum was going to be challenging, I knew the hard work I put in would make earning my degree meaningful and of value.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA, and how did you apply it at work? It is to become a critical thinker about the business of medicine. I heard someone described as feeling like a fake in a room with other executives making big business decisions. Before I had this type of training, I understood that thought. But now, I’ve stopped feeling like a fake. I have a deeper understanding of what’s being discussed and decided. It also creates opportunities to question assumptions and stop accepting what’s handed you. It changes you into a different clinician. It provides with a reference and the gravity to be in those rooms and at those tables where decisions are made. You’ll start questioning and building it differently from scratch; not scratching your head at the end, knowing the history of how healthcare evolved to its current state and feeling defeated by the current constraints.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education. During last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, I drove five hours to my mom’s house, picked her up, and went eight hours to Kansas City to my brother’s house for the week. During that time, I worked through Teams and Zoom, Monday through Wednesday, handling work priorities. On Tuesday evening, I attended an open session with one of the professors after completing homework in the afternoon. There was a case study to analyze and finish, which I concluded on Friday. And then, on Saturday, when I was driving back to Wisconsin, I listened to an audiobook about penguins. That was quite a week, integrating work, my personal life, a holiday, and schoolwork.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Create your study methodology and set yourself up for success early in the process. Gather all your tools and resources so you can work whenever and wherever you have time. You will need an iPad to read the material and take notes. You will need a laptop that can handle Excel spreadsheets. Create a filing system in your email, with separate folders in the cloud to communicate between your iPad and your cell phone. When new classes open, prepare the weekend before. Open Canvas, look at all the required readings, and download all of them to your cloud and iPad simultaneously. This workflow allows you to access course material from any device at any time. You will learn to budget time, read, or work on projects when opportunities present themselves.

Purchase any e-books or order any physical books early so you’re prepared when it comes time to complete chapters for assignments. Then, start blocking your schedule for due projects and have a study system that works for you. It took me a full quarter to devise a system. I’m a visual learner. Reading, highlighting, and taking notes in the margin work best for me. Others are aural learners and listening to books on tape is effective. Know your internal operating system and design a plan which works for you.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I did have a little bit of regret after the first half of the first year; I thought I was wasting my time and was so exhausted. I considered quitting, and other students considered it as well. I wasn’t unique. But I was reminded by those whom I love that I’m not a quitter, and that reassurance helped me power through. I’m reminded about what Winston Churchill said: ‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Indy Lane began the program with an executive presence, which you don’t learn quickly. She knows how to be respectful, engaging, and appropriate with her questions and is joyful to be around. Indy is a happy person and very participatory. She volunteered answers that were sharp, complete, and respectful of counter-opinions. She is a model student and will continue to develop as a great leader.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? I knew the part-time program wasn’t going to work for me because the time commitment was asynchronous with how my work is structured. I also didn’t want the label of an EMBA or online MBA because it lacked the gravitas that the Kelley School of Business brings. I’ve taken the hard path in education all my life working at the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, and I wasn’t going to start now by coasting through an MBA.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? It may sound simple, but I want to be in a position that impacts the care of patients and helps deliver physician-led solutions to our current healthcare crisis.

If I had to choose any job I wanted, I’d love to be an US ambassador. That position draws from a depth of knowledge, the ability to quickly read a room and take a metered diplomatic approach to solve complex problems. It requires a broad knowledge base to command a room while using sharp negotiating skills to achieve your organization’s goals. Combine that with the need to understand issues on a global level, and you have a unique opportunity to impact people and improve the quality of life for many people worldwide. It’s like playing 4-dimensional chess. I see it as a good fit for challenging me and leveraging my skills.

What made Satachi such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023? 

“While an exemplary MBA student, Satchi was also a teacher to his fellow classmates. He voraciously absorbed content and applied it to his own experience, while sharing his experience and lessons he’d learned along the way. It was not uncommon for his fellow classmates to look to him for his insights about how to manage conflict, engage in successful negotiation, or lead teams and organizations. He enriched every conversation he took part in, and advanced collective understanding at every step of the way.”

Jennifer Robin
Associate Faculty and Executive Coach

“I am honored to nominate Satchi Hiremath as a candidate for the Poets and Quants Best and the Brightest MBA Students.  Satchi is a leader, and this talent is recognized by all of the students in his class.  During our class, I had all the students write a memo to the CEO of their organization to express their unhappiness with the budget situation. Then I had all the students choose their favorite among all the disguised memos. Satchi’s was the overwhelming favorite. And the universal response of the students when the found out the “winner” was, “Well, of course…”. This is merely an example of his leadership skills and personality. He always comes across as honest with a sense of humanity and humor.”

Reed Smith
Professor of Accounting & Roger and Barbara Schmenner Faculty Fellow


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