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Gina Hrisopoulos is a Senior Director of Finance Operations at Mission Veterinary Partners. Gina’s Everyday Hero story highlights the impact a family legacy of service can have on people in any industry.

Mission Veterinary Partners (Detroit, MI) is a veterinarian owned and managed network of general practice animal hospitals with a common goal of providing best-in-class care to companion animals.

Transcript

Introduction

Gina Hrisopoulos: My mother and father, are my absolute inspiration in life and drive my career as it is today. My father was an immigrant from Greece, came here with a dream, wanted to build his own restaurant, own his own restaurant. He did that. So I'm born into a family of workers and servicing, and what I learned was seeing my parents own their own restaurant, you really do all the work. You are the owner, you are the ones servicing, you are the one taking care of your employees, and your employees are the ones that kind of make your day-to-day go round. When you have a personal connection to it, it flows and it's easy, and that service almost seems effortless.

When you're not doing what you love to do, that's when the service seems off. So there's something on it that's just not right. And what I do every day is genuine, and I feel it, and I know my team feels it, and I'm confident in that.

Anderson Williams: Welcome to Everyday Heroes, a podcast from Shore Capital Partners that highlights the people who are building our companies from the inside, every day, often out of the spotlight. With this series, we want to pull those heroes out of the shadows. We want to hear their stories, we want to share their stories. We want to understand what drives them, why they do what they do, how they might inspire and support others to become everyday heroes too.

In this episode, I talk with Gina Hrisopoulos the Senior Director of Finance Operations at Mission Veterinary Partners.

Gina is passionate about service, an ethic and a value she learned from her parents as far back as she can remember. A value she saw practiced every day in their family's restaurant. But Gina's path to service took some time to sort out, so I asked Gina to share a little bit about herself and how she got to MVP.

Gina's Background 

Gina Hrisopoulos: My name is Gina Hrisopoulos I was born and raised in Macomb, Michigan. I graduated from Rochester College with my bachelor's in organizational leadership and communication. I reside in Michigan in St. Clair Shores with my husband and my French bulldog, Tucker. I started in my career early in my twenties in retail management.

I thought that's where I was going to be in corporate. I thought I was going to be in the high-rise building in a big city, you know, and then the economy kind of shifted. And retail was a dying industry, and I was actually in a store and a district, I was a district training manager at this time that was going e-commerce.

I saw the flip, I saw the switch coming, and I was like, I have to get out. I have to get into something more stable. That's when I kind of grew into human healthcare and I went into the dental industry. I went into a multi-site service organization and I started there at 60 clinics, or 60 offices rather.

I ended there when they were about between three and four hundred. So I was very familiar with the growth. I loved the fast pace of that industry. It was more so the industry that I didn't love. I ended my career there as a national trainer, I rolled out softwares, I helped with integrations. I did a whole slew of stuff, but I wasn't super passionate about dental, in general.

And so I knew I had to kind of make a shift, and then I got presented MVP.

Anderson Williams: And here is Lisa love the Executive Vice President of Business Operations at MVP.

 

Lisa Love: I met Gina, I hired her about two and a half years ago to my integration team, and she was referred to me by another friend who worked here that worked with her in another industry and said, you have to meet this lady.

She's amazing, she'd be great for your integration team. And I met her, and it's one of those things where, you know, you meet someone immediately and you're like, oh, I got to do something with you, I got to work with you.

Anderson Williams: Can you tell in hindsight what that was?

Lisa Love: You know, I think part of it, she has like this it factor, it's an enthusiasm, it's a passion that comes through even when you just first meet her, you'll see when you get to know her and she's just really effervescent and it just is engaging.

Anderson Williams: It's clear that the feeling was mutual, but it wasn't just a connection with Lisa that drew Gina to MVP. She saw something profoundly personal in how MVP approaches its partners and their teams and the legacy they built long before MVP came along.

Transitioning to MVP

Gina Hrisopoulos: I fell in love with MVP when I met Lisa, and that's because of who she is.

What she presented to me for an integration manager role was unlike anything I've ever heard. I saw the pipeline with during my first interview of what was coming up, was supposed to be 40 clinics in 2020, that was soon turned to 81. But when she said 40 clinics are going to be doing this, this is how we integrate.

We don't change the name of the clinic. We don't change that seller's legacy. That was my one thing at my previous company that I disliked. We did do that. We flipped them, we changed the logos, we changed the signage. We reworked their business essentially on day one, and I saw what happened because of that.

I tie it back to my father with that one. My father sold his business, his restaurant. He built it from the ground up. It was his American dream to come here and do that. And the emotions tied with our sellers, it's so important to me that I follow through with them because when I look at these sellers, he or she, I'm looking at my parents, I'm looking at my family's business.

I'm actually seeing people come in and give presentations and put things on their screen for their mom and dad thanking them for owning and operating a vet clinic in the town that they're in. It's so wild. I really think the industry that we're in and how MVP has joined in the industry is brilliant.

They did it in a way that, it's genuine.

Anderson Williams: And with your parents' experience, did they lose the brand? Did they lose the name?

Gina Hrisopoulos: They did.

Anderson Williams: They did?

Gina Hrisopoulos: They did. Yeah. It's actually a completely different restaurant now. You couldn't even tell it's there. You wouldn't even know that that was a Cyros family dining before.

That's, you know, it's long gone like the wind. So it is really important to me to honor that person's legacy at our veterinarian clinics and really give that team that same genuine feel as well.

Anderson Williams: While early in the conversation, Gina was driven by her past, by her family's legacy and the opportunity to seize this integration's juggernaut, she quickly also developed a deep respect and passion for veterinary medicine. She discovered an industry fueled by people in the trenches of animal hospitals whose passion for their work and sense of service to their clients mirrored her own. She was inspired, she wanted to be part of that, she wanted to support those people in the trenches, she wanted to learn and grow with them.

Gina Hrisopoulos: Another thing about Vet Med is just the type of employees in these clinics are such hard workers. They eat, breathe and sleep operations and veterinary medicine clinics. And they are so on top of it, it's astounding. Just looking from here and seeing the work that they do, they love what they do every day.

It is really hard to find a profession where people in those four walls truly love what they do every day. So if you have that, you need to grab onto it and stick onto it. And it's almost like you're growing with them. You need to grow with them to make this the best it can be, because you have someone that's giving you 110% of effort. What are you doing in return?

The service you're providing your clinics is a service that they're going to provide their clients, and you have to kind of bring that back home. It's an industry that brings you compassion, it embraces empathy.

Anderson Williams: Gina was clearly all in on day one, so I asked Lisa if there was a particular example from her early integrations work, that stood out.

A time when Gina's passion and sense of service to her veterinary partners took things to a whole new level. It didn't take Lisa Long to think.  

Gina's Standout Moments

Lisa Love: Gina was hired with a couple other integration managers all at the same time, and we were hopping busy during that time with integrations. We closed or acquired 82 hospitals within about a six month period, but during that time we were still experiencing COVID, so we had to wear protection and our hospitals had to wear protection, and we were traveling all over the place.

And I can't remember the state that Gina went to, but she went with another person and they went to integrate a hospital and we generally go for a few days and she went the first day to preset up for the partnership and found out after she left that day that someone had a diagnosed case of COVID. And again, this was earlier on and we didn't have the vaccines, et cetera.

And we said, you know, Gina, you and your peer can't go back into the hospital. And so she really had wanted to close this hospital and make sure that they had a good experience. And what she set up at the hotel right by the hospital was kind of a war room where they were able to figure out how to virtually close this hospital on acquisition day.

With the hundreds of activities that have to happen remotely over the phone, over teams, just through the parking lot, handing things off. And she really went above and beyond to try to figure out how can we make this special and make this happen for this hospital. And it was pretty miraculous and I was pretty impressed with her ingenuity and her ability to be creative in solving this problem.

Anderson Williams: But despite her passion for working with local veterinarians and their teams, and for the relationship she had built and the integration work she had helped to design and implement with unparalleled pace and scale, Gina recently changed her role at MVP. So I wanted to ask her about her evolution, and why she made the decision to change, given her success. And in doing so to take on an area of the business she basically had no experience with.

I'm curious, given your background, you've been in training, you've been in dental and obviously in integrations with MVP at a rapid growth time, and you relatively recently changed roles.

 

Can you describe what your career change has been recently?

Gina Hrisopoulos: Yes. When I kind of partnered with Lisa, I, one of my goals for that year of 2022 was to help MVP as a whole outside of integrations. And I remember when I gave this goal to Lisa, she was like, what does this mean? What do you mean by this? And I saw a need for the business.

And when it kind of presented, Lisa approached me about an accounts payable team, and I was like, accounts payable? I haven't, I haven't really done accounts payable too much. I've done AR in my previous experience and all these things, but not lead a team. And she's like, this is the need. The need is leadership. The need is structure. The need is operations. Senior Director of Finance Operations role, which would be over accounts payable and travel and expense, and I was like, I can make a difference here. We have a great team. I'm a natural problem solver. I love a challenge. I was like, I know where I'm supposed to be and I know I need to help MVP more than what I'm doing in integrations.

I felt that Lisa and I, along with another director, Michelle, really built a strong team and I knew that integrations was good. And at that point I knew I could be better used somewhere else in the company because my value and love for the company. It's almost like getting to know the culture and developing that culture.

Then jumping into the system changes and the processes. I was really, really focused on the people first because we had really good talent and they were kind of hidden away a little bit in the organization, which is crazy because they're the ones that pay our bills.

Anderson Williams: And how has the team responded to you joining in?

Gina Hrisopoulos: I think the team was definitely reluctant in the beginning. Originally they were probably like, who is she? Because integrations is in the backend when it comes to the home office. One of the first things for me when I first joined the team was I'm giving you a staff introduction. Like we give a new clinic that's onboarding, we meet them for the first time, they don't know who we are.

 

They're scared, they're hesitant, and I said, I need to do the same for you. So we literally sat in the room upstairs and I gave them a presentation as if they were in integration, and I explained to them who MVP was. I had Mike Aubrey come in, I had a really good agenda planned, and we gave them a top to bottom of the company.

So I think the core values was so important to drill down, not just saying, okay, treat everyone like family, service. No, no, no. It's service. What service are we providing? My job is to service our clinics every single day, and so is your job. And in turn, they service our clients with the pets, and it's just a circle.

So I think that to me, it was just so important for the team to get that background first and foremost, then jump into the processes.  

Finding Your "Why"

Anderson Williams: And I would expect, Gina, that process that you went through of just, let's step back to the beginning and make sure we're all telling the same story, working from the same narrative, thinking about service in the same way.

It seems to me that that would be very motivating and helping people find their why when they feel like maybe they're just writing a check to a vendor, but have lost the why in that. Have you found that your team has reconnected to that why through this process?

Gina Hrisopoulos: Yes. Yes, I have. From the supervisors to the specialists. I tasked them with giving a why and they had to think about it before that initial staff introduction, but more so I needed them to understand how important they were to our success as a company. I think that working is 25% of your life. I've always was told that statistic in a previous job of mine, and I kind of carried that through.

When you add up the hours, it comes out to be about 25% of your life. And if I had any control over someone else's life and their happiness, I'm going to make it a good one. I'm going to make it a positive impact. I've always believed that culture is what kind of drives a, a successful team along with your systems and processes.

It was really important for me, especially growing up, seeing my dad build the restaurant, seeing him build a team, and instead of labeling them as employees, they made it seem like a family. Every single person that you interact with, if they're on your team, they're family and they have to feel that important.

And I really pride myself in making sure that, I'm not showcased, but they're showcased. And they're the ones doing the day-to-day work. I'm not processing bills every day. They are. So they need to be in the limelight. They need to be in the showcase. And so in turn, it makes them feel better. They feel every ounce of importance they should feel in their day-to-day.

And I'm glad they at least get that now, and that we're in a great spot now.

 

Anderson Williams: And then they do better work. And you go back to that reinforcing loop conversation, right?

Gina Hrisopoulos: Yeah. What you're kind of giving, you get back in return.

Anderson Williams: It's clear from Gina's perspective that the account payable team is starting to gel, starting to feel the importance they deserve.

And doing work they can all be proud of. So I asked Lisa what the impact of having a team like this in accounts payable means to the broader company.

And give us a sense of, in terms of the impact of well-running accounts payable process and team and so forth. I mean, what's the impact of her taking on this challenge and succeeding to MVP to the company, whether that's cultural or bare bones, financial, like what is the impact of her being able to step in and do this?

Gina's Impact

Lisa Love: It's been amazing. So we have almost 350 hospitals that we support. In addition to our corporate office. We have a lot of bills that have to be paid. And so as she's gone through and worked with her team to create processes to improve, time to pay, and awareness of where our, invoices are and all of the processes around that.

We've seen a tremendous improvement. Not only have we seen it here at the home office, but the hospitals have seen it. So the proof is in the pudding, is in the results, and the hospitals really feel an improvement and for us in the home office, we feel the culture of that department because it's a relatively large department and we feel the sense of ownership and happiness in that department and, it disseminates across the home office.

Gina Hrisopoulos: I think our model, again, of just our core values and who we are as a company, it's not just for show. It is who we are. Everybody should feel important by their leader every day. But everybody's respected at this company and in turn, our home office works very hard to make sure that our clinics feel that respect, they feel that service.

They know we're humble in everything we're doing.

Anderson Williams: Gina's values run deep and they run all the way back to her family's restaurant, and the way her parents approached their team and their customers. Especially in the most challenging times. The way they led, the way they served, not only their customers, but their employees as well.

Gina Hrisopoulos: It's kind of crazy. I remember being in like a corner booth. My sister and I, you know, I think I was 12 or something at the time, maybe 11, and there was actually a news station, a clip that was being shot at my parents' restaurant. They did these all the time. There was definitely an upset customer, upset situation, and I just remember my dad, he deflected so well, from like the news camera and the anchor person, and he pushed them to the side basically in a nice way, and he went and dealt with that customer and I will never forget, he took his waitress and he walked with her to the back and then he came back out.

And he was like, I have your bill. I have this. I we're taking care of it, so sorry. Don't worry. This will never happen again. And you didn't see the waitress in the back crying. You saw him saying, don't worry about it. That, it happens. This person's just very upset. You don't know what they have going on in their personal life, and realistically, he was being a leader, and so was my mom. My mom was behind the hostess desk, I'll never forget, and she was just nodding her head and smiling like nothing was happening. And just, you know, she is, she's just a hard, hard worker, my mom. And, they just took the brunt of it.

They said, it's okay, let's go back, you got more tables, we're busy. Like, let's go, forget about it. I got it, bill's is taken care of. Let them leave, don't even bother, they'll be fine. And I've kind of taken that because you know, I'm a hothead like my dad. I'm very, I'm very, I'm a, I have a fighter to me, right? And I have that Greek energy.

But one thing I have in me from my father and my mother as well, is that respect and that humbleness and making sure that if you're the leader in the room, you take the brunt of it. And then you go and revisit it back with that employee and you say, okay, next time, like what can we do differently? You have to chalk it up as a learning lesson.

And I think for me, those learning lessons are so important to what we do as an organization.

Anderson Williams: It's clear that Gina Hrisopoulos is continuing her family legacy. Like her parents Gina's everyday hero's superpower is service. But it's more than that. Gina's brand of service is steeped in the courage to live her values and to push herself in new ways and new directions to find deeper and broader impact.

Rather than get comfortable with what she knows and what she's already good at, Gina is always pushing, always seeking her why, and always doing it for the benefit of others.

Gina Hrisopoulos: I think when you're scared of what could come, you're not performing at your best. And I think when people are happy, they feel valued.

That's when they perform their best. So to me, I just pride myself in creating that really strong culture and having that awareness.

Anderson Williams: This podcast was produced by Shore Capital Partners with story and narration by Anderson Williams. Recording and editing by Andrew Malone. Editing by Reel Audiobooks. Sound design, mixing and mastering by Mark Galup of Reel Audiobooks.

 

Special thanks to Gina Hrisopoulos and Lisa Love.

This podcast is the Property of Shore Capital Partners, LLC. None of the content herein is investment advice an offer of investment advisory services, nor a recommendation or offer relating to any security. See the terms of use page on the Shore Capital website for other important information.

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