Sanjeev Tuli and Sonal Tuli

Lifelong learners: UF doctor couple shares their Executive MBA journey

Inspired by their children, Sonal and Sanjeev Tuli are enhancing their business and leadership skills with MBAs from the UF Warrington College of Business.

In his final year of medical school, Sanjeev Tuli (MBA ’25) was as dedicated outside of the classroom as he was inside the classroom. Sanjeev was passionate about playing sports and serving as Grant Medical College’s cultural secretary, which gave him the opportunity to plan the school’s annual fundraiser.

At the same time, Sonal Tuli (MBA ’25) was beginning her medical school journey at the Mumbai-based institution. Eager to get involved, Sonal volunteered to assist at the event.

Upon meeting Sonal, Sanjeev was instantly smitten, and he did all he could to win her affection. Sanjeev’s efforts paid off after he presented Sonal with his student-athlete of the year trophy. He may have won the award for his play on the field, but the trophy helped Sanjeev win what he truly desired – Sonal’s heart.

The rest, as they say, is history. The Tulis have since been married for 32 years and have consistently supported each other’s ambitions, which led them both to their current positions as physicians in leadership roles at the University of Florida College of Medicine.

Sonal leads the Department of Ophthalmology as Chair, and Sanjeev serves as the Associate Chair and Chief of General Academic Pediatrics.

As physicians, the Tulis have years of medical training under their belts, which has well prepared them for their individual practices. But their leadership roles require a different layer of education.

“We were doing significant amounts of operational management and budgeting in our leadership roles despite not having any formal training in those areas,” Sonal explained.

Seeing the opportunity to further their business education, the Tulis made the decision to simultaneously pursue their Executive MBA degrees in the University of Florida Warrington College of Business. Having already both earned their Master in Education from the University of Florida, they recognized they’d have a great learning experience.

“Choosing UF was a no-brainer,” Sanjeev noted. “It is highly ranked and a great value for money; the fact that it is right here in Gainesville was the icing on the cake.”

Throughout their time in the Executive MBA program, the Tulis hope to enhance their ability to lead their respective teams effectively and boost their financial, strategic and organizational management skills.

As physicians, working alongside many peers with backgrounds in business has been both challenging and beneficial to Sonal and Sanjeev.

“Most of the material we’re learning is completely foreign to us,” Sonal said. “We joke that they need a class in anatomy as part of the EMBA to even out the playing field.”

Despite being challenged with new concepts, the Tulis have already built strong connections with their peers and professors, which has enhanced their learning experience and grown their professional network.

“Because of the small class sizes, we have had the opportunity to get to know each other well,” Sanjeev said. “We have also seen tangible benefits of networking firsthand. For instance, I was looking for a nurse practitioner and a fellow EMBA’s partner happened to be looking for a position. We connected and now she practices at UF.”

Even with support from their peers, professors and each other, the Tulis noted their biggest inspiration for completing the Executive MBA program is their children – Aayush, a venture capital analyst with MasterCard, and Anusha, who just graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, and is completing her post-baccalaureate at UF.

“Our children are our biggest cheerleaders,” Sonal said. “Before we applied for the MBA, we discussed the decision with our children who were not only supportive but pushed us to pursue it.”

While Aayush and Anusha are both young adults, Sonal and Sanjeev still understand the difficulties in being working parents earning an advanced degree.

“Balancing parenthood and work often means constant guilt about missing out on events in your children’s lives,” Sanjeev said. “Thinking of adding another commitment to an already full plate can seem overwhelming.”

The Tulis recall the doubts they faced when earning their master’s degrees in education and their children were still in high school and middle school. Their apprehension disappeared once they recognized their shared educational experiences brought the entire family closer together.

“In the evenings, we would all do our homework together, which actually became a bonding experience that has persisted to this date,” Sonal shared. “Anusha and I still have our desks in the same room and study for our exams together.”

Sonal and Sanjeev were inspired by their own parents to be life-long learners, and they have strived to pass that same passion to their children, despite the challenges that may stand in their way. With their latest effort to enhance their business acumen, the Tulis’ efforts seem to have paid off.

“[Aayush and Anusha] are very proud of the fact that we are trying to learn new skills,” Sanjeev said. “In fact, both of them are now considering pursuing their own MBAs.”