Leading the way for labour hire agencies within the aged care sector; Jelena Giro, Director of Altaira

The Altaira team are committed to providing the highest quality of service, and are passionate advocates for the aged care, hospitality and community sectors. Leading the team is Jelena Giro, who joined the national labour hire agency in 2012, and has been instrumental in its growth over the past 8 years. Altaira is now recognised as a market leader in South Australia and beyond, and has a strong reputation for providing experienced Nurses, Personal Care Workers, Domestics, Kitchen Hands, and Cooks for both short term and long term placements to a range of valued clients nationally.

As well as being Director of Altaira, Jelena is a LASA Next Gen Ambassador who is dedicated to promoting the changing face of aged care and is passionate about working closely with her team, members, and clients to achieve a high quality ageing experience for all Australians. Jelena was recently elected to the RCSA Australia and New Zealand Region Council!

“It’s an honour to be elected. I look forward to representing our SA members and being part of a solution to help drive positive change in our industry,” shares Jelena.

Learn a bit more about Jelena;

Why does your business matter?

For my staff and I, it has been a very personal journey. I joined Altaira when it was still in its development stages to help out my in-laws and quickly realised that it had so much potential to grow. Over the years we have grown, but not sacrificed what we truly stand for; compassion, care and responsibility. Our key strength remains to create genuine partnerships with our clients and residents, not just be suppliers. In our industry it is very easy to get lost amongst the politics and competing price wars, quality vs quantity, and accountability. However, I can say with pride that we have not compromised our integrity nor quality.

Who do you look up to?

My answer is, and always will be, my family. They have shaped the person I am today and the person I want to be tomorrow. From WWII partisan fighters, town mayor, president of a country, working mum and dad trying to balance it all, to a stay at home mum, my family, immediate and extended, has provided me with multitude of life lessons and given me daily strength to fight and look for my dreams.

I was born in a small town by the lake called Stuga, Macedonia, but lived in Belgrade Serbia until I was nine. When the infamous war started in Former Yugoslavia, my parents decided to migrate to South Africa in a search of a better life. We lived in Johannesburg and then in Somerset West for four years before once again my parents went in search of a better and safer life for my sister and I. In search of this life we moved to Adelaide, Australia. However, within 6 months due to unfortunately being unable to obtain a permanent residence, so returned to Macedonia. We lived in Skopje for two years, then spent some time in New Zealand. Just before starting year 12 we came back to Adelaide and my family finally settled down. I believe it has always been my parent’s dream to come to Australia as it provided so many opportunities to live in peace and safety. In my family’s hunt for a better life, growing up as migrant and a child that constantly moved to new schools and made new friends, I was able to adapt to change.  I use this skill daily in managing operations at Altaira.

How did you become involved in Altaira?

During my twenties, I felt lost as to what I wanted to do or be. The only thing I was sure of is that I wanted to challenge myself and not settle for mediocrity. So in search of my inner greatness I spent time at university, worked in hospitality and finally settled down in an export company where I managed a team in charge of export documentation compliance and shipping allocation. My key word here is ‘settling down’. I have always strived to do my best in everything and to achieve the goals set by my peers and myself, yet settling down in a job I only half heartedly enjoyed made me feel restless and itching for more. In search of more, I found Altaira.

The inception of Altaira is something I cannot take credit for as my Mother-in-Law started the business in 2008. As a carer and a nurse for many years she wanted to make a difference in the aged care industry. She wanted to become a partner in the sector, not just another service provider. I entered into this business in 2012, where I saw a potential for growth and the opportunity to do something that would make a difference in the lives of others. Through a lot of sweat, blood, tears and sacrifice, (and I am aware of how corny this may sound), we achieved the goals we set for ourselves and continue to grow Altaira into a company where family matters, what you stand for matters, and how you achieve it matters. There is an African proverb that I always use in my home life “it takes a village to raise a child”, this also applies to the growth of a business. In my experience it takes a village to grow a business. Without your work family, you don’t flourish, without the support of your home family, the balance is a struggle and without your community support you cannot grow. I try and remind myself that every day and appreciate the Altaira family we have developed over the years. Without everyone that has stepped up, supported us, and helped us we couldn’t do what we do.

What do you love most about working at Altaira?

At Altaira, we are very family orientated. As a family business, its very important for us to not forget the past and where we came from, nor how we got here. Its something we hold onto quite dearly. I love working at Altaira as I can see the difference that we have made in the past 8 years. I love the fact it has given me a voice to make that difference. I love that we are proactive rather than reactive and we can cater to our client’s individual requirements, tailoring our services to meet their needs.

What are your proudest achievements in the aged services industry so far?

Altaira always endeavor to employ staff that genuinely care and take pride in their work. We are proud to be a company that mentors and supports our nurses. Through our various mentorships we have been able to be a great career stepping stone for many of our nurses and their individual career paths. By nurturing our nurses, we are able to support the next generation of leaders in aged care.

How do you maintain a work-life balance?

Today as a 36 year old woman, a mother of two beautiful girls, a business owner, and a dreamer I can honestly say that the balancing act as a female in business is still tricky. However I want to show my daughters that it is achievable. I want them to grow up feeling empowered to chase their dreams and to know that they can have it all. I am achieving my dreams, accepting new challenges, and still learning from my peers and anyone that is willing to impart wisdom. As human beings we learn and grow throughout our life time. Our legacies are the families we leave behind and the stories we tell. My story is still writing itself but along the way I want to look back and see that I have made a difference, reached and fought for my dreams. Along the way I have encountered many people that in some way have shaped my life.