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Era Living’s Executive Director in Training Program

Era Living Susan Vahlkamp-S31

Susan Vahlkamp, Executive Director of Era Living’s University House Issaquah, joins Suzanne to talk about the company’s executive director in training program, which offers employees an opportunity for advancement to become strong, knowledgeable leaders.

Susan says, “It’s something that happens periodically in the company. Just two are selected at a time to go through that training program. They  announce that they are accepting applications. It is only open to internal employees, and then you have to apply, get the blessing from your supervisor, the executive director at your community where you’re working, and then it’s an intensive interview process.”

She adds, “A lot of it is really learning more about each and every role in the community that isn’t the executive director. That is the part that’s really unique. It’s not sitting with an executive director for a year and watching what they do. You take turns being assigned with a department director in one of our communities. I started with housekeeping, and I spent two full weeks with one of our amazing housekeeping directors at one of our communities, and learned their job as well as spent a full day with a housekeeper, cleaning apartments, a full day with the custodian, doing all the common areas and special projects, a full day in the laundry room. So really during those two weeks, I was really deep-diving into housekeeping.

“And then from there, I moved on to a different department at a different community. So I would spend a few weeks to maybe a whole month, depending on the department, at our different communities with some people that were identified to be really great at their jobs and really see how a well-functioning department would run. And there were also modules where I wasn’t in a community, but it was working on leadership development, and interviewing, and understanding the financial portion that you’re responsible for as an executive director, through the budget for a community for the year. And so it had a lot of different aspects to it. And then the at the end, you get assigned to one community as an associate executive director to work more hands-on under an executive director for a portion of time as part of the program as well.”

Susan says, “I really think it helps as an executive director to have actually worked in every single position in the community. So, you know more of what it’s really like for that person in that role, and when they’re asking you for more staff, or they want different resources, you better understand what they’re talking about. And make a better informed decision or can be more proactive in a lot of ways as well. I think you’re just more relatable — I can really talk to the servers about what their job is like, and understand their struggles. And the person that is working overnight as a caregiver — to really have seen what they, their job is really like is very, very helpful.”

Hear more podcasts from Era Living at Answers for Elders, including conversations with other residents, at Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/era-living/

Learn more about:
Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/welcome-to-answers-for-elders/.
Era Living at Answers for Elders: https://answersforelders.com/era-living/
Era Living’s website: https://www.eraliving.com/
University House Issaquah, located at 22975 SE Black Nugget Rd, Issaquah, WA 98029-6997: http://www.eraliving.com/communities/issaquah/

Answers for Elders is part of the SeniorResource Network: https://www.seniorresource.com/
Check out our affiliate podcast Alzheimer’s Speaks: https://alzheimersspeaks.com/