A change is brewing — How former healthcare administrator Phillip Santillanes knew it was time to stir things up

Former San Antonio-based Medical Center Ophthalmology Associates CEO Phillip Santillanes worked his way up through the healthcare industry in various leadership positions, but after 21 years, knew it was time for a change.

When he was 18 years old, Mr. Santillanes enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where after discovering he was colorblind, entered into a career as an X-ray technician, marking the beginning of his career in healthcare.

After completing his military service, he earned a bachelor's in business administration from Albuquerque-based University of New Mexico, then a master's certificate in contract management from Villanova (Pa.) University and finally a master's degree in healthcare administration from Plainview, Texas-based Wayland Baptist University, all while continuing to work in the field.

He became the director of San Antonio-Specialty Surgery Center and eventually the CEO of Medical Center Ophthalmology Associates, where his expertise was recognized by the American College of Healthcare Executives where he completed his fellowship and served on their local chapter board.

But, after working long hours for 21 years, Mr Santillanes felt an idea percolating. He left healthcare behind and with the encouragement of his wife and pursued his lifelong dream of starting a coffee-roasting business.

Mr. Santillanes is in the midst of opening the Texas Grounds Coffee Company, and he's letting a set of core principle drive it — connecting people and helping their dreams become realities.

"Our dream is to connect people. Coffee is just an excuse for being able to sit down and talk to people… We're doing it to really highlight and meet people in Texas. Yes, it is about the coffee, but it's also about telling people’s stories to the world and helping them achieve their dreams," he says.

Mr. Santillanes is using his healthcare experience to help make his vision a reality.

"Some of the same things I did as a CEO, I do here," he says. "I met with every individual, I said 'what's your dream, what's your role and how can I get you from A to B. Let's work on a plan to get you from here to there, and I'll make sure you achieve it.'"

The biggest thing Mr. Santillanes had to overcome before launching Texas Grounds was a lack of income and the large financial investment roasting equipment requires. However, it's something he's taking in his stride, knowing while the first few months will have no physical income coming in, the long-term payoffs will be among the most rewarding parts of his life.

"Healthcare was my dream for 21 years and I achieved what I set out to do," Mr. Santillanes says. "But now I'm finally at this point, and it's fantastic ... The key is to trust in God and have the courage to do something you love. I'm never going to have to look back and say I never tried."

For more information on Texas Grounds Coffee Company, click here.

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