A former U.S. Marine, legislative aid to the Senate, and Vice President at J.P. Morgan, Margo Ellis brings an impressive and diverse set of skills to her position as Honor’s Regional Manager for the SF Bay Area market. Her enthusiasm, positive attitude, and great style make her a natural to be out in the field, meeting new people, and building relationships to help folks who need care.
When did you start at Honor?
I’ve been with Honor almost since the beginning. I started in July of 2015.
What attracted you to Honor and working for a home care company?
I’ve always been attracted to roles that will allow me to make an impact. I think that’s why I joined the Marine Corps and what lead to my work on The Hill. Honor is one of those rare companies where you get to be a part of something that’s revolutionary and will really make a difference.
What do you love most about your job?
Being able to help families and empower Care Professionals.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about home care?
That being a caregiver is unskilled labor. My grandmother has very severe dementia. We use Honor to provide care for her. So I know from my own experience that caring for someone with dementia requires a great deal of skill. Just knowing how to be with someone who has dementia, understanding how to operate in their world, respond with sensitivity, and create a space where they can be really functional and happy in their everyday living is a real skill. Our Care Pros bring a broad base of skills to their work that are often not recognized by people who’ve never seen a really good professional caregiver at work.
What makes providing home care in the San Francisco Bay Area area unique and/or challenging?
San Francisco has gotten so expensive that a lot of people, including caregivers, have moved out of the City to the East Bay and other areas. This is why we have regional pricing in this market. It allows us to pay Care Pros more to help offset the expense and inconvenience of getting to the City. It’s been a challenge for us to strike the right balance and ensure that we can provide care in San Francisco at a fair price and also incentivize our Care Pros to drive the extra miles to SF clients.
Honor is a different type of home care company. What are the most important differences that you’d like people to know about Honor?
The Honor difference is our Care Pros. They start out as the best of the best. Then we provide them with better tools through the Honor app and better pay so they can care for their own families—they are empowered to be rock-star caregivers.
What’s a typical day like for you?
Right now I’m overseeing the SF Bay Area and the L.A. Market. I’m usually in the Bay Area at the beginning of the week, then flying to L.A. near the end of the week. I’m always working with our team to figure out where we have the strongest relationships and how to grow and develop those relationships.
What keeps you up at night?
Thinking about how to serve more folks. One of the hardest things about being a new organization in a very established market is that there’s real resistance to trying something new. What I think about and probably worry about the most is how to convey the value that we bring—especially our ability to respond quickly and offer flexibility in care plans—and to try to break down the fear barrier that people naturally have of something new and inspire them to try Honor.
Tell us bit about your background and career history?
I was a Marine for ten years. I got out as a Staff Sergeant. When I first joined the Marine Corps, I wanted to be a tanker but I couldn’t because girls were not allowed to drive tanks. So I became an engineer, which in the Corps, is a fancy title for those who build stuff.
In Iraq, I was a member of the Lioness program, also called FET teams or Female Engagement Teams, in addition to my primary role in the Marine Corps of Engineers. FET were all-female squads, usually of three or four women, attached to male infantry units to be more culturally sensitive—our guys patting down Iraqi women was very offensive.
I got into veteran advocacy when I came home and worked for Secretary Shinseki as his legislative aid to the Senate. I did that for a couple of years. Earned my graduate degree at night from Georgetown and… Had a lot of bills to pay back. (She laughs.) So I went to work for J.P. Morgan as a VP overseeing the integration of Dodd-Frank, overhauling all of their processing to be in compliance with the new reporting standards.
Something about yourself that would surprise people?
I use many of the same skills working at Honor that I developed as a Marine in Iraq. I have to be able to read people and assess a situation very quickly. Fortunately, when you’re selling home care, nothing blows up.