Name: Michele Veillon
Organisation: Senior Helpers
I am a long-time resident of Rayne, married for 33 years with 5 adult children. I recently became the CEO and Co-Owner of Senior Helpers Lafayette with Elder Outreach, an in-home caregiver agency. I was the VP of Marketing with Elder Outreach for over 16 years with prior experience as a mental health clinician, healthcare provider, and marketing manager.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Louisiana and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Louisiana State University.
I am currently a Rayne Rotary Club and Executive Board Member, Board Member and Secretary of the Louisiana Assisted Living Association, Board Member of the Rayne Beautification Board and the Rayne chamber of Commerce; Certified Dementia Practitioner (NCCDP); Acadia Parish Tourist Commission Board Member, and a parishioner of St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Michele's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
Juggling many balls at one time which all seem to be the most important ball in the air at any given time!
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I worked in a Marketing role then transitioned to VP of Marketing over the course of 16+ years. My road to CEO was not linear, nor was it planned or anticipated. I credit a special mentor in my company as the catalyst for giving me a prominent seat at the table, a voice in high level decision-making, and the confidence to reach for a ceiling once believed to be unattainable for me.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I am a list maker from sun up to sundown. Prioritizing the needs of people above the operational needs of the agency supports my personal philosophy of attending to people who work with me in the office, the caregivers in the field, and the clients we serve as non-medical homecare company. When it is financially reasonable and prudent, I outsource some of the operational responsibilities so that I can be present for those needing my support, advise, counsel, and time. There is no greater investment than my time given to those who serve our mission!
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
The are no management books or leadership lessons that can successfully replace giving time, value, and attention to your staff. We communicate on many aspects of the business (regardless of job title), brainstorm ideas, share the job load, advance positions through new responsibility (guided by trust and educational support), and come together as team.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
It may be unorthodox, but as a Social Worker, mom, and idealist, the books that appeal to me from a leadership perspective are Dr. Seuss...simplicity and honesty, genuine kindness, pushing comfort levels, celebration of diversity, advocating for those who have no voice, and being a unique individual (by reading kid's bedtime stories instead of leadership bestsellers! :))
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
Identify a colleague who amplifies your voice and ideas to others, but who also challenges you. Develop a point of view and have an opinion (about whatever your industry is/does or your role in it) regardless of your age. Share your thoughts despite your fears and be vulnerable enough to risk failure...because this is the sweet spot of growth. And never say you are sorry (unless you have intentionally caused harm). Stand by your actions and take charge of the consequences if things go south!
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
I had many sleepless nights for the first four months in my new role, but it was very cathartic for me as I processed the kind of leader I was called to be. Our management team has been challenged by me to make decisions independently, take on new tasks, and to grow their competency skills. The feedback I've received from this team helps me know that (although we still have growing pains to contend with) we are on the right path. Oh, the places we will go!