mCHAT

mCHATS: Celebrating Maestronite Women

We were so pumped for International Women’s Day that we celebrated the entire month of March. We’re closing it out with our final mCHAT with Janice Bergeron, Corporate Controller. Be on the look out for future mCHATS, where Maestronties speak their minds and share their insights.


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Any advice you can give to a woman looking to advance in her career?

  • Set aside time periodically to reflect on what is important to you, both personally and professionally, and how your goals align with those priorities. Write them down and try to set a timeline for yourself. Break down your large goals into actionable steps.

  • Celebrate your victories and don’t dwell on the setbacks. Take away what you can from those experiences and move on.

  • Quit apologizing for taking up space in this world. Be confident in your value. If you don’t feel it right away, fake it until you do.

Are there any women you look to as inspiration? 
My sisters. I admire that they have identified what is important to them and pursued paths that fit their needs. They don’t believe they have to conform to someone else’s ideals.

Tell us about a mentor that inspired you in your career.
I’ve been strongly influenced by Bob Knott, President of SWC Technology Partners. He is incredibly sharp and challenges himself and others to strive for excellence. He demonstrates a lot of passion for his work and treats team members in a very respectful, genuine way. While working with him, I had the opportunity to grow tremendously and he gave me the autonomy and support to build a stronger accounting team. He helped me realize what kind of leader I wanted to be.  

Are there any books you've read lately that helped inspire you? 

  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  • Eighty Days: Nelly Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World by Matthew Goodman

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

mCHATS: Celebrating Maestronite Women

Yes, we’re still celebrating International Women’s Day. What can we say, one day just wasn’t enough and we’re having too much fun chatting with the women of Maestro Health. Our next mCHAT is with Rai Barney, Human Resources Manager.


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How did you get to where you're at now?
Faith, determination, drive and a whole lot of ambition! I’ve always sought out professional development and educational opportunities. I’m always in the classroom learning something new.

Care to share any fun facts about yourself?
I won a 2012 Volkswagen Beetle on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode in 2010! I’m affectionally known as “Twirl Girl” in the Harpo Media community.  

What is the best career advice you've ever been given?
Stand up for yourself and help someone along the way. Be an advocate for change!

Can you tell us about a mentor that inspired you in your career?
My mentor is Dorri McWhorter, CEO of YWCA. The YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago is the oldest and largest women’s organization in the region, with a mission to eliminate racism and empower women. I love Dorri’s drive and determination to impact social change in the world. She is very relatable and filled with positive energy! We are both members of Oprah’s TV church, “Super Soul Sunday!”

Are there any books you’ve read lately that inspire you?
I love the Crucial Conversations book. I am also a licensed Crucial Conversations instructor and believe in the communication tools they offer for high performers when the stakes are high.

How do you get involved around your community?
I serve on the Board of Directors for the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. Our vision is to create a vibrant arts community in Chicago. I also volunteer with various non-profits within the Chicago area, providing complimentary career coaching to underserved communities.

Any advice you can give to a woman looking to advance in her career?Network, network, network! Be open to change and remain optimistic – attitude is everything!

What do you like about Maestro Health?
I love that we live our values! I see our “kindness” value in action on a daily basis in our office. My other favorite value is “humility.” When we humble ourselves, we are able to positively create the change this is needed in the world.

mCHATS: Celebrating Maestronite Women

Even though International Women’s Day was earlier this month, we’re continuing the celebration by bringing you another mCHAT. Next up is Nancy Reardon, Chief Strategy & Product Officer, who’s discussing all things career, role models and overcoming obstacles.


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Any advice you can give to a woman looking to advance in her career?

  • Bloom where you are planted.

  • Be so good that no one can ignore you and the opportunities will follow.

  • If given a “seed,” grow a garden. Be an attentive listener and add value between the lines. This means being very proactive and finding your own opportunities to shine – don’t wait for your path to be paved.

  • Don’t ever be afraid to ask questions – silence assumes you know.

  • Be comfortable with who you are.

What advice do you have for men in the workplace who want to express their advocacy for women empowerment in the workplace and aren’t sure how to start?
Stealing from Nike – “Just do it.” It’s not about male or female in my opinion, it’s about leadership, teamwork and camaraderie. Male leaders should take the same approach with women as they would for a male counterpart; some of my best colleagues and advocates have been men. 

What do you like about Maestro Health? 
It begins and ends with our people – Maestronites. We hire people who possess and live by our core values: teamwork, humility, urgency, bold thought, honesty, preparedness, biz-love, fun, kindness. These are attributes you simply cannot teach.

The end result is  an expressive workforce made up of diverse opinions and backgrounds. This is what makes us stronger as a company. I feel truly privileged to work at a company that values what makes us unique – as opposed to calling out why we are different. 

mCHATS: Celebrating Gender Diversity

By Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources & Compliance Officer

While it may seem like International Women’s Day was first put on the map only a few years ago, the holiday dates all the way back to 1909. Today, International Women’s Day is recognized and celebrated in more than twenty-five countries.

We at Maestro Health want to join in the fun but decided one day just wasn’t going to cut it. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’re taking the entire month of March and “mCHATTING” with some of the women at Maestro Health about careers, inspiration and overcoming obstacles.

We’ll be sharing our mCHATs here on our mBLOG. First up is Sheryl Simmons, Chief Human Resources & Compliance Officer.


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Care to share some fun facts about yourself?
I love to sail our boat the Barcelona. I am a total travel junkie. My blood type is French roast. My playlists include 80s hair bands and old school jazz. I don’t have an athletic bone in my uncoordinated body.

How did you get to where you are now?  
I believe it has been a combination of being open to possibilities, pushing myself, and simply being in the right place at the right time. In terms of my journey to CHRO at Maestro Health, I was the Vice President of Human Resources at Group Associates, which Maestro Health acquired in 2015. Prior to that, I was the Director of Human Resources at Five Brothers Asset Management Solutions.

What advice do you have for other women in healthcare?  
Some of the best advice I have been given in my career is to listen. That’s important enough to bear repeating. Listen. Believe in yourself, surround yourself with strong people that push you to grow, and remember to send the elevator back down. It’s essential that you know your business inside out. As you grow in your role and career, be able to talk the talk of your C-suite and other peers. Keep yourself open to possibilities. You never know when an interesting opportunity will knock on your door.

What are some of the personal experiences that have influenced your thinking around gender diversity in the workplace that have motivated you to get involved in being an advocate for change? 
Not just gender diversity but diversity. Period. The idea of denying a highly qualified candidate the opportunity to grow in their career or enrich your business because of their physical makeup is outrageous. Gender, sexual orientation, weight, age, ethnicity, religious beliefs – are you kidding me? The war for talent is raging. Intentionally narrowing the talent pool based on irrelevant details is more than just illegal. It’s a narrow mindset that only does your organization a disservice.

What do you like about Maestro Health? 
So many things but first and foremost that we encourage our employees to bring their authentic self to the job every day. Of course, we expect professionalism and for people to embrace our culture and core values. But the fact that we meet them where they’re at and celebrate the diversity they bring to our family – that’s true biz-love.

Are there any books you've read lately that helped inspire you?  

  • Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work that Matters and Make Smarter Choices About Giving Back by William MacAskill

  • The Empathy Effect: Seven Neuroscience-Based Keys for Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Work and Connect Across Differences by Helen Riess, MD

How do you get involved around your community? 
Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. I believe human beings are fundamentally wired to give. I love that we embrace this at Maestro Health. Maestronites have participated in a number of volunteer and fundraising opportunities, such as working at food pantries, making blankets for the homeless and foster kids, and school supply drives across all four of our locations. You don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist. Your time is incredibly valuable. Get involved in what matters to you.

Are there any women you look to as inspiration? 
I really enjoy following Libby Sartain to hear her perspective on Human Resources. 

What is the biggest roadblock you've experienced in your career & how did you overcome it? 
It’s sadly not an uncommon experience, but I have worked at organizations where men in positions of authority viewed women as “lesser” in the business world. How did I overcome it? I put them in my rearview mirror. Life is too short for that nonsense.

Research suggests that women can face different challenges in the workplace making it more difficult to access opportunities, networks, resources, etc. In your view, what are some of these systemic challenges that still need to be addressed? 
Unfortunately, there are still many cultural gender biases that still exist both in the workplace and in relationships. For instance, childcare and managing a household are still often considered a woman’s responsibility when it's truly a parental or partner responsibility. 

A common gender bias issue that takes place in the workplace deals with the mental framework of emotional and verbal responses, i.e. a man will make a statement and he's considered assertive but if a woman makes the exact same statement she’s considered “bitchy” and consequently overlooked for growth opportunities. 

It’s also all too common to see women who struggle with imposter syndrome. We see it a lot in high-achieving women who believe they're unworthy of the roles they have earned, and fear others will expose them as a fraud. So not only are they facing external challenges, they’re having to refute their internal dialogue as well.

While there’s no magic wand to solve for these challenges, I believe open discussions embracing gender diversity, such as this blog series, can be a piece of the puzzle to help us get there. 

Overall, it should never be about men vs. women. Instead, it should always be about who is the best person for the job. And when the best is a woman – fight for her – not because she's a female but because she's the best.