IACCGH Shell USA Distinguished Lecture Featuring Dr. Renu Khator, Chancellor, University of Houston

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Article by Somdatta Basu


Dr. Renu Khator and Malisha Patel Share Insights on Transformational Leadership at IACCGH Event

In the heart of Houston, amidst the bustling energy of the city, the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston (IACCGH) and Shell USA Inc. recently hosted a captivating event as part of their Distinguished Lecture Series. The focus? “Transformational Leadership,” a theme that resonated deeply with attendees as they gathered to glean insights from two distinguished speakers: Chancellor Renu Khator of the University of Houston (UH) and Malisha Patel, Senior Vice President and CEO of Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital and Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital. In a fireside chat format, the conversation engaged the audience with profound insights into their professional trajectories and leadership philosophies.

The event commenced with Jagdip Ahluwalia, Executive Director of IACCGH, setting the stage for what promised to be an enlightening dialogue. Rajiv Bhavsar, President of IACCGH, underscored the significance of women’s contributions to the business world, noting the remarkable strides being made by female entrepreneurs across Texas.

Chancellor Khator, a beacon of transformation in academia, took the stage to share her remarkable journey of elevating the University of Houston to national prominence. “As an immigrant, I’ve always believed in the power of perseverance,” Khator remarked. Emphasizing the importance of community support and local talent, Khator spoke passionately about her immigrant background, highlighting the resilience and determination that propelled her forward. During the conversation, Dr. Khator reflected on her upbringing in India and the unique challenges faced by immigrant families in balancing cultural heritage with adapting to a new environment. Drawing from her own experiences, she emphasized the importance of understanding the perspectives of both parents and children in navigating cultural differences and fostering trust within families. Like any transformative endeavor, Dr. Khator’s leadership journey has been marked by challenges and obstacles. Yet, it is her resilience in the face of adversity that sets her apart. From navigating internal resistance to overcoming external skepticism, Dr. Khator has never wavered in her conviction or determination. As she aptly notes, “Life is never easy, but adversity presents us with a choice: to succumb or to rise stronger.” This sentiment encapsulates her determination in the face of challenges, a theme that resonated throughout her address.

“Great universities are built by great communities,” Khator affirmed, encapsulating her belief in the power of collaboration and collective endeavor. She emphasized the need for clear goals and actionable objectives, a strategy that proved instrumental in her transformative leadership at UH.

Joining Khator on stage, Malisha Patel, a seasoned healthcare executive, shared insights into innovation in medical education and the importance of addressing evolving workforce needs. Her questions stirred the discussion on cutting-edge programs at UH, including initiatives in population health and data science, underscored the institution’s commitment to excellence and forward-thinking. “We constantly strive to introduce cutting-edge programs that address the needs of the workforce and the future,” Khator said. Adding, “Our initiatives in population health and data science are just the beginning of what we envision for the future of education.” Dr. Khator’s narrative extended beyond professional achievements, delving into her upbringing in India and the values instilled in her from a young age. Her passion for lifelong learning, evident in her diverse hobbies such as yoga, language learning, gardening and painting, reflects a continuous pursuit of personal growth.

“I love life,” Khator shared with a radiant smile, as she recounted moments spent with her family, especially her beloved granddaughters. These moments of joy, she noted, provide balance amidst the demands of leadership. Addressing the audience’s questions, Dr. Khator provided practical advice on managing stress, prioritizing personal and professional commitments, and finding balance in life. She highlighted the significance of mentorship in her own career and encouraged attendees to seek guidance from diverse sources, including books, colleagues, and formal mentorship programs. The IACCGH Fireside Chat event concluded with a sense of inspiration and admiration for the leadership exemplified by Chancellor Renu Khator and Malisha Patel. Their stories serve as a testament to the intersection of personal and professional journeys, demonstrating how resilience, innovation, and a commitment to community can shape impactful leaders.

In the words of Chancellor Khator, “The journey to success is never easy, but it’s always worth it.” Indeed, her journey, intertwined with personal values and professional vision, stands as a testament to the transformative power of leadership and inspiration.


Consulate General of India in Houston D.C. Manjunath was the Chief Guest.