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Leilani found her true vocation as a Village Manager after 25 years working for Woolworths

Leilani Leslie had worked for Woolworths in Queensland for 25 years when she was made redundant.

“I had spent my entire career there in various roles including Internal Audit and Food Safety,” Leilani said.

“I had successfully survived many re-structures within the company, however in 2019, my world as I knew it came crashing down when I was made redundant. Over the next three months I applied for 37 roles, most in the fields I had worked in previously, however three had popped up in my SEEK profile for the Retirement Industry.”

Leilani was given an insight into the retirement and aged care sector when her late father had dementia for the last five years of his life. She started as a Village Manager at Reside Communities’ Brookland Robertson retirement village in August 2019 and has never looked back.

“One of the most wonderful things about life as a Village Manager is the varied days you have,” she said.

“There really is no ‘typical’ day, however as an example, it could be made up of one or all of the following tasks: meeting with a resident regarding a question or suggestion they have, making a coffee for a resident in the café, sorting mail, setting up chairs for the next event scheduled for the community centre, editing and printing newsletters, putting out a notice for EKKA Sundaes or Hot Chip Fridays, showing a new resident our facilities, sharing a resident’s proud photos of their grandchildren over a coffee, helping a resident access social media, planning for a Melbourne Cup function, taking a phone call from various tradespeople about maintenance within the village, driving the village bus to Sunnybank Plaza or Bunnings to pick them up after their shopping outing. There really is no start or end to my role, which I find to be fabulous!”

Leilani said the qualities needed to be a Village Manager are patience, a sense of adventure and imagination, the ability to organise and a good memory for names.

“You need to have the ability to laugh and cry with the residents, to be able to put yourself in their shoes, to be ‘real’ in the true sense of the word. I know it might be cliché, however I have come to think of the residents as my extended family. It’s like I now have over 100 grandparents!”

The greatest pleasure is to see the excitement on her residents’ faces when on an outing or at an event.

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