Senior Living Spotlight Interview – Gary O’Brien
We are delighted to bring you the third installment of our Interview series, offering an exclusive glimpse into the exceptional individuals shaping the senior home industry. In this interview, we connect with a seasoned professional whose journey, from running a renowned restaurant to assuming the role of a Regional Culinary and Facilities Manager in central Ontario, provides valuable insights into the industry’s dynamic landscape. Read on to uncover their experiences, gather insights, and discover their dedication to improving the lives of seniors and their families.
Q. What was your last job before entering the senior home industry?
A. Before transitioning into the retirement industry, I had conceived, built, and operated a highly popular restaurant in a historical tourist destination for 23 years. Additionally, I ventured into producing a line of salad dressings that were sold in grocery stores and specialty food outlets across southern Ontario.
Q. What is your role today?
A. Building upon my prior experiences, I currently serve as a Regional Culinary and Facilities Manager in central Ontario.
Q. What does your typical day look like?
A. My role entails a considerable degree of diversity, and each day presents its own unique set of challenges, making the position all the more intriguing. Primarily, I provide guidance and support to managers in the field.
Q. How has life changed for you personally and professionally after the COVID-19 pandemic?
A. COVID-19 has permanently reshaped everyone’s reality, particularly those of us who were on the front lines during the early stages of the pandemic. However, change necessitates adaptation to our new environment. While staffing challenges have somewhat eased, they continue to test our resilience. Costs and business models have shifted to accommodate our altered supply chain realities.
Q. What was the professional highlight for you in the last year?
A. Our successful launch of the new Continyou Care program across the entire division is a significant achievement, proving to be a valuable asset in our daily operations.
Q. What do you enjoy most about working in the senior living industry?
A. The residents. To thrive in this industry and achieve success, one must possess a deep desire to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. At the end of a day filled with challenges and successes, the knowledge that people have enjoyed what we do is truly rewarding.
Q. What advice would you give to young people considering a career in the senior living industry?
A. Our industry isn’t merely a job; it’s a fulfilling career replete with challenging situations but also abundant personal rewards and satisfaction. Every action we take contributes to making lives better.
Q. What is a challenge in your current role that keeps you up at night?
A. I don’t have profound concerns that keep me awake at night, but, as is the case in most modern industries today, finding individuals who can embrace our industry’s vision and work successfully within it remains a significant challenge.
Q. Do you have any mentors who have guided your career progression? What is your networking approach in this space?
A. Absolutely. I’ve had mentors who have played a crucial role in shaping my journey. To succeed in any aspect of life, we often seek guidance from those who have walked the path before us. Dr. Harry Rosenburgh, a remarkable General Manager with whom I initially worked, helped me recognize the impact we have on the lives of others. Networking is fundamental in our industry; our victories and setbacks result from a collective effort.
Q. What is your favourite book or podcast that has recently had an impact on you?
A. Choosing a single favourite book or podcast is challenging, as I’ve found wisdom hidden in each one over the years.
Q. What is a new belief, behaviour, or habit that has significantly improved your life?
A. In my professional life, a firm belief that anyone can succeed and be successful as long as they aren’t afraid to embrace failure has been a cornerstone.
Q. If you were given $1 billion, how would you allocate the money to change the world?
A. I’m only human, but I would hope to use the funds to empower others to improve their lives, focusing on providing opportunities rather than handouts. Financial success is important, but our true legacy should be measured by the positive impact we make on the lives of others and the path of positivity we leave behind.
Q. If you had a chance to talk to your 16-year-old self, what would you tell them?
A. Live life to the fullest, enjoy each step, and learn from every misstep. We are all shaped by our life experiences. However, it’s essential to take more time to savour moments with those around you.
Q. In terms of your legacy, how would you like to be remembered by your family and friends?
A. I hope to be remembered by my family as a man who always did his best, acknowledged his mistakes, and, above all, prioritized caring for others.
This is our third interview in a series featuring individuals in the senior home industry. Check out our first interview with Rachel Easterbrook here and our second interview with Kristina Papic here.
Additionally, if you’d like to learn more about Continyou Care, please schedule a demo with us here.