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Stephanie Lim, 36

Vice president of strategy, neuroscience and innovation, HCA Healthcare Capital Division

It took being accepted into medical school to make Stephanie Lim realize that she didn’t want to be a doctor.

Looking to discover what she did want, Lim left her native Malaysia in 2005 to attend Luther College in Iowa on multiple scholarships in pursuit of her bachelor of arts and advanced degrees. The plan was to try out different courses to figure out what she wanted to pursue, which turned out to be majoring in chemistry and minoring in management. By graduation, it was the height of the Great Recession and Lim feared that companies wouldn’t choose to hire a non-American over an American.

Instead, company executives offered to sponsor a work visa, permanent residency and eventually asked if she wanted to be a citizen. “I never set out to become an American citizen, I set out to have a career,” Lim says.

Her work team helped her study for her citizenship exam and she became a U.S. citizen in February. “I wouldn’t be here today except for the folks who took a chance on me.”

Today she’s at HCA Healthcare where, as VP of strategy, neuroscience and innovation, Lim is responsible for identifying business opportunities that fulfill the community’s healthcare needs including market-based strategic plans, service line development, deployment of innovative technologies and telehealth implementation, the latter especially in response to the pandemic. She attributes her effectiveness in her job to the people she works with.

“I’ve seen CEOs in scrubs helping with patient transport because things were so busy,” she recalls. “People willing to roll up their sleeves and help with staffing when needed. I show up because of the selfless staff I work with.”

They’re the same people who essentially took her in.

“Lots of people’s dreams for me helped get me here,” she says. “They said, 'We see you as someone, and we want to help you achieve the American dream.'”