From Hospitality to Healthcare – Sonia Jacobs Reflects on her Journey

August 12, 2019

You often hear that healthcare is a huge industry, but a small community. Through the many opportunities offered by her local CCHL chapter, Sonia Jacobs was able to build her professional and social network and grow her community. Her involvement in the Greater Toronto Area Chapter has earned her CCHL’s Chapter Award for Distinguished Service. Starting off as a corporate member, the chapter allowed her to grow important business relationships. Now, as an individual member, her chapter keeps her tuned into the constantly changing landscape of the health industry. During her time on the GTA Chapter Executive Committee, she endeavored to bring to the membership the things that she also values: interesting speakers, LEADS-based educational opportunities, network-building and opportunities through the mentorship program.

“I’ve always maintained that you have to love what you do.” Sonia began her career working in hospitality, but quickly realized this was not for her. She wanted to work somewhere where she thought she could make a difference that she believed mattered. For Sonia, this meant switching to healthcare. From a young age, she had a passion for healthcare, but soon realized sciences were not her strength. She was finally able to discover her path when she heard about health administration. Sonia returned to university where she obtained her Master of Health Science in Health Administration (MHSc) at the University of Toronto. From there, she has worked in quality improvement, patient safety and client engagement for her entire healthcare career, in several leadership roles.

Throughout Sonia’s career in healthcare, her ability to adapt and sometimes re-invent herself has allowed her to effectively execute many challenging new roles. “I am sure that, in the first ten years of my career, every person who offered me a new or expanded opportunity took a leap of faith.” Fortunately, through Sonia’s desire for meaningful work and her skills in quality improvement, these leaps of faith quickly turned into several successful accreditation projects, many service delivery improvements, an organization-wide EHR implementation, and much more.

Reflecting back to her time as an MHSc student, Sonia learned a valuable lesson. “I had the opportunity to travel with two hospital CEOs to a regional meeting.  I sat in the back seat of the car.  One of them turned to me and said, “you have the full attention of two experienced healthcare leaders.  Is there anything you’d like to ask?”  Intimidated, I could only offer, “no thank you”.  Upon arrival at our destination, I was unable to exit the car due to the child locks.  As they started to walk away, I was forced to honk the horn to grab their attention.  Life lesson learned:  Make Your Presence Count!”