Winter 2023

Our Knights & Distinguished Personalities
‘Focus on Being a Better Human Being’

Dr George Cheriyan, the Corporate Chief Executive Officer and Chief Medical Officer of AMH, is an inspiring leader. His energy and commitment motivate staff and influence people he interacts with. Let’s try to find out the person behind the CEO...

Who is your role model/ mentor?

My grandmother is my role model. During my growing up years, I used to spend time with her during my holidays. She was very hardworking and used to manage the household, the farm, workers, a cowshed with lots of cows (she would name each of them and call them by their names). She was a very inspiring person and used to give me pearls of wisdom and taught me many of life’s lessons. Grandma would hold my hand and say, if you want to be a physician, be a good physician and not a ‘smart’ one.

How have your wife and family influenced your life?

My wife was my classmate and she is a family physician. She retired from Aramco last year after 27 years of service. We’ve known each other for about 50 years now and she is my staff that supports me. Darley has been my partner in everything I have done; she was an active partner in the building of the new hospital. My elder son is a gastroenterologist in Dublin, Ireland and my younger son is an intensivist in Salt Lake City in Utah, US. We meet them at least twice a year.

Any incidents in professional life that made a great impact on your career?

During my first two decades, it was my grandmother’s influence. In the next decade, I had a professor of pediatric infectious diseases at a hospital in London who shaped my career. ‘The first lesson you have to learn is never treat a patient as a friend or friend’s child or your family or your own child. Treat him/her as a patient’, he would advise me and insist that medical guidelines are paramount and one should never deviate from them.

How do you keep your team motivated?

I inspire my colleagues through personal journeys, stories of my own life, and the learnings from mistakes that I’ve made. People have the capability to rise to levels beyond what they think they can achieve and I want to ignite in them that passion to reach the next level. I’m not just interested in them being good physicians, but I want them to be good people. If you are a better human being, then you’ll be an outstanding physician. There’s no secret sauce there at all.

What are the guiding principles in life?

There are two tracks on which my life travels – one is integrity which is in everything that I do and what I say I will do. The second is the struggle to stay humble. Because with success, one can feel inflated and begin to walk on clouds, it’s important to stay grounded.

What’s your day like? What do you do during weekend?

You will say my days are a bit boring. 
I am an early riser, I’m usually up at 4.30 in the morning – doesn’t matter whether it’s a working day or holiday. I spend the first couple of hours in prayer and self-reflection. Then I reflect on what has to be done for the day. I’m at work at 7 am and my schedules are busy – meeting staff, and meeting the demands of the various hats I wear in leading healthcare. The only other thing that I do is to read. I’m a voracious reader. I also like spending time outdoors in the garden. I go to bed early. I am in bed by 9:30 pm.

What advice do you have for young healthcare professionals?

The only advice I would give is that learning is a life-long journey. The greatest life lessons actually come through your patients and we must learn to listen to them. Never take medicine or healthcare to be a profession where ‘money’ is the central goal. There’s no mantra, if you treat every patient with respect, then you’ve got everything else going for you.

What do you think is your greatest achievement?

There’s nothing like greatness; I honestly don’t think of my work that way. For me, if I could impact one person, in some way, then I’ve done a good deed. I meet so many people from different walks of life, if I could share something that would open up something inside them to think differently, then I have done something. During the construction of the new hospital, I had the opportunity to touch the lives of hundreds of people through my interactions with them – from the workers to the contractors, the owners of companies, etc. I am grateful to God for this opportunity of serving this way. 

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