Author: Elizabeth Millard (MSPBJ) Posted: May 22, 2019
Our co-founder and co-ceo Jennifer Maxwell was recently recognized as a 2019 Women in Business by the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. She is so deserving, and we couldn't be more proud.
As a part of the award series, they profiled Jenn. Check it out below! (In the Q&A portion she discusses advice to her 18-year-old self and her perspectives on gender equality. You don't want to miss it!)
Jennifer Maxwell, Women in Business profile
By Elizabeth Millard
Since launching Maxwell Healthcare Associates in 2016, Jennifer Maxwell has provided an excellent example of how to hit the ground running.
Surpassing $1 million in revenue after just a year in business, the health care consulting company now employs more than 50 people and has become a leader in providing home health and hospice providers with the operational and technology tools they need to deliver unparalleled care to seniors.
Maxwell brings considerable expertise to her company’s mission. Previously, she worked as executive director of the Minnesota HomeCare Association and ran adult community services programs at the Mesa County Department of Human Services. In these roles, she gained a deeper understanding of the importance of health and hospice services, particularly at the end of life.
Another strategy she implemented that has contributed to her company's growth is offering schedule flexibility to her employees. As a mom with two boys, Maxwell knows the importance of balancing career with family, which is why she empowers team members through the ability to work remotely, with customizable hours. Her vision for employees, health care and her company are all the same: to create transformative growth and positive change for all.
What was your first management position, and what surprised you about that leadership role? Adult services manager with the department of human services. I was promoted internally several times before reaching the management position. What surprised me most was that there wasn’t a script. As a manager, it was up to me to determine the best ways to motivate, engage and develop my team. With a blank canvas, I turned to management books and sought out mentors. The biggest takeaway then, which is a core belief I hold today, is that good managers grow their team members. If that means those team members grow beyond you or leave you, you’ve done your job. As a manager, and even more so as a business owner, I’m passionate about passing on knowledge and coaching — not as a feather in my own cap, but because I feel fortunate to be uniquely positioned to help others realize their potentials, reach new levels of growth and find fulfillment and passion in their work and personal lives.
What are you working on that you are most excited about? Which one?! Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal at Maxwell is to be the largest post-acute care consulting firm in the nation. It’s our hope that we’re the first call when a post-acute organization needs consulting services. This excites us because we know we hire consultants who share a similar passion and enthusiasm for the importance of home health and hospice services. We know that when our consultants are working with agency leaders, they have the expertise and passion to best direct that agency to truly improve patient outcomes. Our growth strategy is simple — keep the patients’ needs at the forefront of every decision. The cool thing is, after three years in business, we’re already the largest by consultant count. We’re excited for what the future holds.
What’s the most common mistake you see young, ambitious professionals make? They're so eager to prove themselves, they rush into solutions before they’ve seen the big picture. I know most do it from a place of enthusiasm and hunger, which are both great attributes to bring to your job. One thing we try to do at MHA to alleviate this for ambitious newcomers, is to enforce the 30-60-90 plan in onboarding. Take 30 days to learn the operations, the next 30 to ask questions and the final 30 to formulate vetted changes that are appropriate rather than ego-driven. It’s understandable that good hires want to show value quickly, but change is only valuable when it’s strategic, tailored and based on facts. Take the time to understand before you act.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self? Two things: First, do your best. Not to make your mom happy or check something off your to-do list, but to be your best for you. Prepare mentally, emotionally and physically to reach your goals and don’t let minor setbacks thwart your perseverance. You want to be able to look back and know you truly gave it all you had. Second, surround yourself with genuine and supportive friends, mentors and family members who will give you honest feedback, encourage you, coach you and push you beyond your self-imposed limits. By embracing and forging those types of relationships, you'll more quickly discover your true strengths and passions, which will enable you to confidently chart your most authentic life course.
Where would you like to see the conversation around gender equity go in the next five years? Hopefully, we can redirect our energy toward other conversations at that point. Perhaps in five years the pay gap will be closed; we’ll have the most qualified person for the job at the table, regardless of his or her gender; and we can all focus on hiring, paying, promoting and rewarding based on merit.
*This article was originally published in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.