In Her Own Words: ‘I Didn’t Choose My Business, My Business Chose Me’

Posted on May 25, 2016 by Lioness Staff

Julie Kuriakose MD Headshot

Dr. Julie Kuriakose

Everyone has a unique story of success, triumph or failure. These brave women share their personal business lessons … In Her Own Words.

There are a plethora of career paths to choose from these days, and most require some sort of formal education, be it professional training or traditional degrees. As a medical student, I spent countless days dedicated and protected, learning the details and nuances of medicine, and how to treat patients. But once it’s time to leave the ivory towers of your teaching institution, a new challenge arises: Where can I put these learned skills to work?

Finding that perfect position – one that suits you and adequately compensates you for your skill and education- can feel daunting. For women in particular, where a clear wage gap exists, the job hunt can bear discouragement and disappointment. But a negative job hunt experience doesn’t have to weigh you down. Instead, it can be leveraged into a career where you control your own destiny.

The traditional career path – interviewing at and getting hired by an established organization – may seem like the only (and most practical) option, but it’s not the only one. I finished my post-medical school fellowship with the intent of joining an already established practice; I certainly didn’t intend to start my own. But after interviewing with multiple practices, something didn’t feel right and I left each interview feeling undervalued.

While these interviewing physicians were simply acting in what they felt was in their practice’s best interest, I quickly realized my career growth would be stunted if I joined a practice that did not view me as an asset from the beginning. Through this process, an entrepreneurial seed was planted in my mind and I recognized my best option would be the once unthinkable: launching my own practice right after training. I decided to pursue my own venture, and began to put the pieces together.

Three years later, my practice, Hudson Allergy, has two Manhattan locations and has sustained impressive year over year growth. We’re planning on opening another location in the coming year and have aspirations of becoming a brand with a national presence. Negative experiences do not prophesize negative careers; it is what you do with the experience that really counts.

For those who are considering taking their own leap, and starting their own business, I offer the below advice, which helped me get where I am today:
Take risks, but only if they’re calculated.

Any career trajectory requires taking risks. Do I take a position at a new firm or do I wait it out for a promotion? Whether you choose the entrepreneurial route or accept a position at a company, it’s important to take risks. But judge those risks wisely – a reckless risk may be more damaging than not taking a risk at all.

Trust yourself to be the judge. It’s OK to be nervous and/or scared. It’s OK to make mistakes; these are opportunities to learn from. Failure is not something to fear, but aim to fail smartly. Any risk you do take should be supported by diligence and hard work. Success does not come without sweat.

Don’t let someone else’s description of a leader/entrepreneur discourage you.
I never felt that I fit the description of leader, particularly post-fellowship. I never had the loudest voice, I wasn’t the most extroverted and my presence was not necessarily the most commanding. But the idea of leadership is not one-size-fits-all. Nor does someone else’s definition of leadership have to apply to you.

During my job hunt, I took on a moonlighting gig for another allergist, hoping that it would become a full-time contract. I remember approaching this allergist seeking feedback on my performance after six months. I was clear in my ambitious goals, and my desire to grow their practice. The feedback I received was: “You don’t know anything about having your own private practice.”

Had I let those words resonate and manifest into discouragement, I probably might not be where I am today. Don’t let someone else’s bias affect your drive to go after your dreams.
Surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed.

My interview process may not have generated a ton of supporters, but I had a number of people in my life who believed in my success. You are influenced by the people you surround yourself with so choose wisely.

My business partner, Dr. Tim Mainardi, always viewed my individual success as equivalent to Hudson Allergy’s success. The success of the business is just as much the result of his leadership and diligence, as it is mine. Surrounding yourself with people who value hard work and skill everyday will make the uphill battle much easier to endure.

Dr. Julie Kuriakose is co-founder of Hudson Allergy in New York City. She is dual board certified in Allergy and Immunology and Internal Medicine, and is president-elect of the New York Allergy Society.

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