‘The future looks bright,’ as Schlegel Villages Celebrates Leadership Grads

Succession planning is critical to meet expanding needs

“We don’t serve people by letting them be less than they can be,” keynote speaker Nancy Fox told a group of nearly 250 people gathered at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton for the annual Schlegel Villages Leadership Retreat. Indeed, a true leader – a servant leader – continually seeks the best in the people they support and they’re always on the lookout for the next person to ascend to new roles within their organization.  

Cody Turner delivers a humourous account of his growth within Schlegel Villages.
Cody Turner delivers a humourous account
of his growth within Schlegel Villages.

Succession planning is critical in every industry but most certainly in long-term care and seniors living. Organizations that fail to groom future leaders from within will be left behind in an ever-evolving sector serving an aging population. That’s why the 23 most recent graduates of Conestoga College’s Leadership Program for Long Term Care and Retirement Living were celebrated at this year’s retreat.  

These are people who’ve demonstrated an innate ability to harness their experience, ambition and compassion in the service of both residents and team members. “This is our future right here,” said Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel as he addressed the graduates, “and I can say that our future is incredibly bright.”

By all estimates, Schlegel Villages will need upwards of 200 new people in leadership roles to match anticipated growth in the coming months and years. New long-term care acquisitions are on the horizon every day and ever-expanding retirement neighbourhoods in existing villages are perpetual in their growth. The organization is committed to grooming seven out of every 10 new leaders from within, and the leadership program developed in partnership with the RIA and Conestoga provides a clear path for some.

They’re people like Cody Turner, an interim neighbourhood coordinator from the Village at St. Clair who’d been in his new position for but 10 fresh days when he spoke at the conference about his trajectory within the organization.

After years jumping from job to job, Cody explained how he decided he needed to find true purpose in life. It was nearly three years later when he saw a possibility at the new village in Windsor that was preparing to welcome its first residents. He’d never been to a job fair before and, filled with a strange mixture of calmness and excitement, he was called to a table to sit down across from vice-president of operations, Joanne Potts.

He had no idea what position he was applying for, so he spoke about how he loves to meet new people and how he always looks for ways to help others. The conversation carried onto his past experience and when Joanne learned he was an auto detailer, she suggested housekeeping might be a good fit.

‘You have the cleaning skills as well as the people skills,’ Joanne suggested, ‘and the housekeepers spend a great deal of time in the rooms and they absolutely get to know the residents.”

He got the job and three years later, he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m fully and completely in love with my village, the organization and people who live in our village and the team members who work there,” Cody says. “I’ve embraced every part of village life that I possibly can.”

The leadership program was only the latest opportunity he leapt into, having volunteered in support of the advisory teams that guide culture change in the villages and some of the key signature programs that support individual residents.

Now he’s stepped into a new leaderships position, eager to make a difference and prove the choice a fit one. “This leadership course, the Village at St. Clair and this organization has changed my life for the better,” Cody said. He thanked Joanne for taking that initial chance in him, the leadership team at St. Clair for their support and the Schlegel Family “for taking the chance to grow and develop . . . potential leaders in the organization and for having such an incredible vision that I am so proud to be a part of.”