Women in Business Q&A: Donna Moyer, CEO, Preferred HealthStaff

Donna Moyer is the CEO and co-founder of Preferred HealthStaff, an in home care franchise that goes beyond the traditional services. Moyer has decades of experience in the health care industry. She started when she was 19 years of age and spent many years as a nurse. After an unfortunate experience with in home care for her own family, Moyer decided to start her own agency. Preferred HealthStaff opened in 2009 in Pennsylvania and has expanded in the state several times since.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Learning to be a leader is something that began early in my life. From a family perspective, I am the first of four children my parents have had. As, I am sure many first-borns can attest to, being the oldest requires a certain sense of leadership. In addition to that, I am lucky to have had a great example of a strong, confident, mentally tough woman in my mother. That is something that came in handy later in my life as a squad leader in the U.S. Army. Each of these things has taught me a great deal about being a fair and honest leader, and one who leads by example.

How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at Preferred HealthStaff?
Again, this starts with family. I come from a family of healthcare providers. So understanding the proper procedures and practices to helping an individual has always been a part of my life. Those experiences led me to my own profession in healthcare, which I began at 19 years old. Taking care of people is the number one priority at Preferred HealthStaff. I have learned to do that throughout my life. And knowing that taking care of people takes professionals who are educated about proper care for individuals has helped keep us on track.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Preferred HealthStaff?
The idea for Preferred HealthStaff first came about after my own unfortunate experience with in home care for a loved one. I thought to myself, I can do better. The challenge was how? I wanted to create an in home care company that is a one-stop-resource for anyone needing help at home. That's why we offer more than medical services. That meant starting this concept from scratch. While that was a challenge in 2009 when Preferred HealthStaff started, it is also a highlight now. The company and our services have continued to evolve, and we are constantly thinking of new ways in which we can help.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Stay true to yourself. As a business leader it is good to be open to opportunities and take risks. But make sure those risks are calculated ones, and ones that you are comfortable taking. And I am not just talking about financially. Make sure that whatever the venture is, that it is in line with what you vision for your company. It is more difficult to turn the ship around, than keep it moving forward on one course. Also, don't worry so much about not being successful. It's not important how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get up that matters. Do that and you will find your version of success.

What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
Staying on course, is something I just mentioned. The amendment to that is the most important lesson I've learned. And that is to be flexible on that course and open to new ideas. From technology to business practices, almost everything evolves over time. Let your company do the same. The method of getting something done doesn't have to change the end goal. For example, Preferred HealthStaff has a 24-hour service request now. If you need help, you can call and get it the same day. Today's technology has allowed for faster communication. So we are also adapting. But it doesn't change the goal to help people at home.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
This is especially difficult for women who work with their families, like I do. It is very easy to let business creep into dinner conversation. So making time for yourself and your family is key. I work hard to "turn the switch off" when I go home and focus on my family. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary. One thing that can definitely help in that area, is to make sure you hire the right people and give them the space to work. At Preferred HealthStaff, I am comfortable with the capabilities of those I have hired. They allow me to better balance my life.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Women have come a very long way in the workplace. In my opinion, the biggest issue is one we've been working on for a long time. Today, more women are in leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies than ever before. But it is still only a small percentage compared to the number of men in leadership roles. It seems to me that the issue has less to do with actual capabilities for the job than how women are viewed. A small percentage of women are viewed as executives or entrepreneurs. As I mentioned, this is changing. And as more women climb corporate ladders, and become successful entrepreneurs, the view of women in the workplace will continue to evolve too.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I once had an employee situation at Preferred HealthStaff that needed to be handled. I intended to reprimand the employee appropriately, until the meeting started. I decided on a different route, instead pointing out her good traits and things she needed to work on and why. She was emotional and just as I was about to comfort her, she thanked me. That employee is not only doing a better job but she also enrolled in school to learn more. That moment opened my eyes to the power I can have as a mentor. Most successful people, if not all of them, will tell you they had help. I believe in the power of that and the responsibility that comes with that. Being a mentor can change someone's life. And I am constantly making strides to be a better mentor to more people in my life.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Among the female leaders that I admire is Jane Adams, the 19th century icon. Adams was a social worker and a leader in women's suffrage. Anyone who has been helped by a social worker has Jane Addams to thank. She also helped better the lives of all American women by standing up for her belief that women should have the right to vote.

Also on my list is Nancy Brinker, the founder of the "Race for the Cure" and the Susan G. Komen Foundation. She took a personal situation and used it to fuel a global movement that has and continues to help people. Being successful as a businesswoman is hard enough. But being successful as a businesswoman and a philanthropist should be celebrated.

What do you want Preferred HealthStaff to accomplish in the next year?
Preferred HealthStaff just started franchising this year. So far, we have already awarded a few franchises and are continuing to grow steadily. In the next year, I hope to continue that growth and continue our mission to help people retain their personal freedom in their homes. The number of people reaching an age where they might need help is growing fast. It is my hope that Preferred HealthStaff will be in a position to help them whenever, where ever, and with what ever they need. And I feel that we are on the right track for that right now.