Joyce Kruesopon was named one of Morrison Healthcare’s Regional Vice President of the Year award winners for 2020. Based in Henderson, Nevada, Joyce oversees more than 30 healthcare organizations in California and Nevada, including Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center and University Medical Center in Las Vegas.
Written by: Joyce Kruesopon, Morrison Healthcare Regional Vice President
My parents wanted to give my siblings and me the best opportunity to succeed and the best way to do that was to come to the United States for a better education. We emigrated to California more than 45 years ago. It was a big culture shock and difficult to assimilate because I did not speak a word of English.
At 10 years old, I quickly learned and was able to communicate fluently in English in about 6 months by watching television as well as enrolling in English as a second language class.
My mother was an amazing woman. She received a scholarship to study nursing at Marquette University in Wisconsin and was a nurse for 50 years. She wanted me to also study nursing, but I cannot stand the sight of blood or needles. I knew I wanted to work in healthcare, so I did some research and found the field of food and nutrition. I received my Bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from California State University of Los Angeles. My first job in a hospital, while attending college, was as a dishwasher. I performed practically every job in the kitchen and continued to work my way up since then.
A Turning Point – Joining Morrison
I joined Morrison in 1989 after graduating from college as a Doctor’s Dining Room/Catering Manager at LAC/USC Medical Center. I left after a year and a half to join a competitor. I worked there for the next 20 years and thought that I would retire with them. As luck would have it, things don’t always work out as planned. After that company lost a key account, I had to look for other opportunities. Luckily, the timing was perfect and I came back to Morrison as the Regional Director of Operations for Southern California in 2011. This was the best decision of my career.
The biggest difference I noticed immediately when I came back to Morrison after being with a competitor for the last 20 years was the specialized setup for each line of service. The support and resources Morrison has for its operators far surpass that of any of our competitors. We have so many great, smart, dedicated, and talented people in this company. The culture was also different…It was more caring and inclusive. I felt like being part of a family instead of just being an employee of a large company.
Managing Through COVID-19
We all know that 2020 was likely the most challenging year the foodservice industry will ever face. With hospitals shutting off service to visitors, we needed to quickly adapt to serve patients and the medical staff in all of the hospitals.
To meet this challenge, my region used our purchasing power to set up in-house “Markets To-Go,” offering meals and bulk items that people couldn’t buy at grocery or neighborhood stores. We prepared and sold pre-packaged meals for medical personnel and other hospital workers to take home, as well as toilet paper, cleaning products, and other important items.
The new market concept received a favorable response at many hospitals in the region and was soon adopted by other Morrison regions. We also had to adjust the way we conducted our business in terms of region support. Instead of visiting accounts and meeting with clients in person, we had to do it virtually.
Although many hospitals in California are still not open to visitors, sales are rebounding. Our revenues have reached approximately 80 percent of their pre-pandemic levels. Corporates’ support from Culinary, Patient Services, and Retail teams were invaluable during the pandemic. They guided us every step of the way of the best practices for each of the areas. It was very difficult to navigate through the different changes almost daily during that time. We were all grateful for all the support and timely communication of all the changes.
The main reason for being able to manage thru the COVID-19 crisis is the great partnership and trust each of the on-site and regional teams has with our hospital clients. We were able to collaboratively work with them on financial terms and continue to provide excellent care to our patients, staff, and visitors during the pandemic.
The Best Advice – Taking Care of People
I’m often asked how a manager can succeed. The most important piece of advice that my mom gave me that I continue to practice is to take great care of the people who work for you. Treat them with kindness, respect, professionalism, and most importantly show them gratitude. Make an effort to catch people doing something good and recognize them to promote the same behavior.
At each of our accounts, there is a “Gratitude Jar” where our hourly associates are encouraged to submit notes that recognize the good work of their co-workers. We also do “Shout Outs” for our team’s accomplishments on our weekly calls.
I provide $50 awards monthly to teams at six different hospitals that surpass their revenue goals for the month. It gives them an opportunity to celebrate together and know they are making contributions to our success.
Finally, be present, be responsive and be there for your team. People are your greatest asset and the key to your success.