I first came to New Orleans in 2007, two years after Katrina, to enroll at Tulane University when I was 18 years old. There was still a lot to be desired, but the city never pretended to be anything other than what it was. What drew me to Tulane was not a particular career path, but a sense I had to be part of the impassioned rebuilding taking place throughout New Orleans’ communities.
Four years later, as graduation approached, I wanted to continue working in the city that filled my soul. There is a self-awareness for those in New Orleans that makes each day count, stirring passion in all types: musicians, artists, chefs, and, more recently, entrepreneurs. The spirit of the city inspired me to stay and be part of its third wave.
I’m thankful that a friend told me about a new program called Venture for America. I did some research and saw it as an opportunity to develop skills and professional perspective, and, most importantly, to contribute to the growth of New Orleans. VFA has provided me that and a lot more.
After I was accepted, I interviewed with a handful of companies. I wanted to work for an early-stage startup so I could contribute to the culture and brand. Never did I think I would find that position in healthcare IT.
StaffInsight provides a suite of workforce management and analytics tools to help good hospitals become great. There are only four full-time employees at StaffInsight, so my role is dynamic. I jump back and forth from product to sales, and try to find opportunities in between. Recently I enjoyed working as project manager for Schedulist, our staff planning solution. Coordinating our internal dev team and some hired help has proven challenging, but the network of VFA companies has provided me access to startup veterans and a high-level crash course in project management—something I would not have dreamed of acquiring from my first job out of college.
My work experience has been eye-opening and it’s great to be part of a company that is a making a difference for small- to medium-sized hospitals struggling in the newly structured healthcare system. On top of the experience working alongside StaffInsight’s founder and CEO, I’ve been able to engage the community.
Last year I founded Startup Effect with three VFA colleagues. With help from nearly 10 fellows we are providing middle school students in New Orleans, Detroit, Providence, and Las Vegas with exposure to entrepreneurial concepts and opportunities. Having students work with local startups and entrepreneurs will, we hope, inspire them to participate in developing the future as well as the present. The creativity and enthusiasm that our students display has already contributed to multiple companies’ success, and for that reason I am confident in the future of New Orleans.
Steve Jobs once said, “Technology alone is not enough…. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our hearts sing.” To know New Orleans is to dance to the music, savor the food, see the art, and feel the humanity. While nearly all cities struggle to fill the technical demand, none are as culturally and creatively rich as New Orleans. By merging the creative community with those of emerging industries, education, and healthcare in particular, I’m confident that amazingly human products will come out of New Orleans and connect with a global audience in a way that something merely technical never could.