Our Women of Care Innovations series continues with a discussion with Vice President of Operations Laney Preheim, who spoke to us about her role models, advice for young professionals and the importance of compassion in the workplace and keeping an open mind.
Who is a female who has been inspirational to you in your career, and why?
Carlene Ellis, former Vice President at Intel Corporation, has been a foundational professional role model for me. I began working at Intel as a college intern. My dad also worked at the company, and Carlene was his manager, and honestly, that's the only reason I had any opportunity to interact and observe her in the workplace.
At the time, I had no idea that Carlene was Intel’s first female vice president. I had no idea how she got to her position. I had no idea she was a pioneer. All I knew was that she was magnetic. Her vibration was high, she was shrewd, and she didn’t take any bullshit. I wanted to be just like her!
Obviously, we didn't have much cross-over in the workplace, with me an intern and she a VP, but the little I was able to witness gave me a strong model to strive for. I'll also never forget the clicking of her shoes down the extremely long hallway of the hospital after my dad had a heart attack. I was dazed, standing in the corridor, not really sure which end was up. And there came Carlene — not as his boss, but as his friend. She showed me that compassion and relationships do have a place in the workplace, and that people matter.
How do you balance work with family life?
For me, the most important factor of balancing life in general is to remain physically active. I've been doing CrossFit for several years, and have also been an avid runner and a yogi. I am committed to my regular class schedule, and something needs to be really important to bump my workout. Work and family and all of the other competing life priorities are a lot easier to sort and manage when I am active.
I'm also grateful to have a spouse who works part-time and who can be home with our two young kids (ages four and seven) in the afternoon. This makes all the difference for my piece of mind when I'm at work.
Surprisingly, balancing work and life has gotten easier as I've aged, gotten married and had children. Before, it was simple to always be available and truly be okay with that. But now, I make it super clear that, while my list of priorities is short, if you are on the list, you're getting my full attention and devotion.
What advice would you give to young women regarding their career?
Girls are raised to be deferential, while successful women are portrayed as assertive. Reconciling these beliefs is difficult. Understanding that there is a time and a place for both (in addition to many more points of view) has taken a lot of practice and thoughtful intention.
Women are uniquely gifted with strong sense of intuition, yet we're also raised to ignore it for a whole host of reasons. When I started cultivating my intuition, I found I was rarely ‘pretending’ to be something I thought I ought to be. There are times when I am sensitive, polite and acquiescent at work. Alternatively, there are times when I am bullish, opinionated and stubborn. I have re-trained myself to drop societal biases. When I let my gut be my guide, I have found that I win in life and at work.
Also, don’t drink too much at work functions. Just don’t. Even if it’s casual. Even if you really enjoy hanging out with your colleagues. Even if others are drinking too. Those stories get told and re-told (even in good humor) and it’s just not the impression you want to make.
What traits do you possess that make you successful in your career?
I love details, organization, bringing order to chaos ... all perfect characteristics for operations. Also, I'm a good listener; I revel in making to-do lists then checking off the items. I find getting my hands dirty very gratifying.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned regarding your career?
Be flexible and keep an open mind. Both of these things do not come naturally to me, but the trick to keeping sane and doing the right things at the right time almost always comes down to adaptability.
A few years ago, my family and two other families decided to take a three-week RV road trip through Canada, which included six adults and seven kids under the age of six. It was evident very early on that, if I didn’t lighten up, it was going to be a very long and painful trip … kind of the opposite of our intention. I made a mantra for myself — “I am flexible!” — and said it often. So, what started out as an ironic joke actually became a reality, and I’ve noticed a great improvement at work.
About Laney Preheim
Laney Preheim is Care Innovations' Vice President of Operations, responsible for critical operational functions to improve customer satisfaction, support the patient experience and nurture growth. She has been with the team since its formation in 2011, and has been a leader in establishing organizational operations and developing innovative strategies in digital health and IT for almost two decades. Laney is proud of her focus on team collaboration and her ability to build relationships and drive positive change across global lines.