The interview below is part of a series from McGuireWoods that features interviews with C-suite leadership of private equity-backed portfolio companies. To recommend a leader for a future interview, email Holly Buckley at [email protected].
Q: What advice would you give to a founder CEO when evaluating potential partners?
Lauren Sclesky: Invest the time to evaluate whether you share the same vision and your core values and principles are mutually aligned. The foundation of an organization is built on core principles. Identifying a partner that has similar core principals is a precursor to building a healthy and thriving organization.
Business challenges are inevitable. A cohesive partnership will foster collaboration and trust in times of uncertainty and result in stronger outcomes. Included in this are the open conversations I would ensure you have about strategic goals, including liquidity expectations.
Q: What was the best advice you ever received about running a business successfully and who did it come from?
LS: The best advice I received about running a business was from my mentor and former partner. Early in my career, he suggested I join a leadership and peer advisory group with other business leaders and engage with a business coach to help improve performance and execution. I have been involved with several groups throughout my career and gained tremendous value from other leaders as we often faced similar challenges in our roles. I received candid advice and perspective that helped me identify and address my blind spots and supported my development as a business leader in an evolving organization. An abundance of the wisdom and business practices I use in my role today came from peer advisory groups.
Q: How do you ensure the platform’s organizational culture is appropriately conveyed to potential targets?
LS: At VersiCare, we are passionate about our culture. It is what sets us apart from our competition. Our discussions with potential targets start with us conveying our core purpose of “helping people succeed.” It is truly at the heart of everything we do.
VersiCare is a value-driven organization that has provided care for more than 20 years. This message is communicated throughout our discussions that tie back to our execution and vision strategy that focuses on accountability, alignment and results, with an emphasis on people. Our core ideologies and organizational culture are prevalent in many discussions, and our actions are aligned with our values throughout the diligence process.
It is equally important for us to identify strategic partnerships that have a foundation similar to our organizational values. To that point, we have stepped away from potential targets that, while having a strong business model, did not align with our organizational culture.
Q: What plans do you have to further grow your business internally and what will be necessary to implement these plans?
LS: VersiCare has positive brand momentum and continues to build a best-in-class platform despite challenges associated with COVID-19. We have engaged with various prospects and plan to complete several new partnerships in 2020. At the same time, we have onboarded several new team members despite working in a largely remote environment.
VersiCare’s strategic plan is to be a top provider of home- and community-based care in the central and southern United States through acquisitions and strategic partnerships. An essential strategic component is to find like-minded companies that share our vision. We can provide a unique and tailored solution to smaller agencies that have hit a growth peak and need capital and infrastructure to build their business.
VersiCare leads growth and expansion with our aforementioned core purpose of helping people succeed. We are recognized as one of Detroit’s “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” over the past 12 years. Preserving the foundation of VersiCare’s culture is top of mind as we build out our footprint. We place significant value on company culture and believe it is an instrumental factor in the success of the organization.
Our key initiatives are focused on building an evolving infrastructure and scaling systems and resources to support growth. As our infrastructure has scaled, we are better positioned to offer existing clients new and expanded service offerings while providing best-in-class options for our employees.
Furthermore, the leadership team has developed an integration team to ensure seamless transitions with a tailored playbook that has a standard onboarding process that includes the roles and responsibilities for all functions. We approach each integration with communication and transparency, leading with a company kickoff meeting to infuse excitement and engage the team in the transition and the opportunities ahead.
We believe that by making sound investments in the VersiCare platform today, we are positioned to execute our organic and inorganic growth plans for years to come.
About Lauren Sclesky
Lauren Sclesky joined what is now VersiCare Group in 1996 as a staffing consultant and held multiple positions within the company, including branch manager, operations manager, vice president of operations and chief operations officer. Sclesky was named CEO in 2008. She created VersiCare Group through a management-led buyout of its predecessor company.
Prior to VersiCare, Sclesky built a best-in-class platform by developing strategies that supported long-term and short-term goals, assembling a cohesive team and positioning the company to raise outside capital. Since the creation of VersiCare Group, she has led a multistate expansion, expansion of her executive team, de novo growth, payor growth, a spin-out of a non-key division and inorganic growth.
Sclesky is a member of the Macomb County Provider Alliance (MCPA) and sits on its board as secretary. The goal of MCPA is to improve conditions as they relate to providing support to persons with disabilities. Sclesky is a continuous advocate for consumers’ rights and maintains an integral role and responsibility in promoting the significant duty that caregivers assume in the success of the community mental health system. Her advocacy includes educating the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local legislators on the financial supports needed to deliver successful programs and outcomes.
Sclesky enjoys and excels at coaching and training initiatives for new employees and customers on various human resource and professional business topics, including effective interviewing, emotional intelligence and conflict management. She earned an associate’s degree in advertising and a B.S. in business management, both from Northwood University.
To contact Lauren Sclesky, email [email protected].