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Women in Business: Q&A with Johnette van Eeden, CEO, Star Wellness

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Johnette van Eeden is CEO of Star Wellness, a company she founded in 2003.

Today, Star Wellness is a recognized leader in onsite medical screening and laboratory services that help corporations, local governments and school districts implement wellness programs to control or reduce healthcare-related expenses.

The company has more than 200 clients in 20 states and now offers franchises, with locations in Houston and the Panhandlle.

Ms. van Eeden has been honored by Women's Enterprise Texas and Women's Enterprise USA magazines as one of the Top Women's Business Enterprises in both Texas and the US.

A native Texan, Ms. van Eeden devotes a large amount of time to working with schools and children. She has been a volunteer for Junior Achievement and Big Brothers/Big Sisters and has served on the reader panel for Family Fun magazine and as a contributing editor for Working Mother magazine.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Both my parents were blue collar workers and my grandparents were farmers, so I had a strong work ethic instilled in me from an early age. I remember having to be in the field by 6:00 a.m. in the morning during summer harvest as my grandparents lived (and farmed) next door. I also have 3 sisters, 2 brothers, and over 30 first cousins. Growing up in a large family also develops leadership.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position as the CEO of Star Wellness?
Having worked in software development I had a keen insight into systems and processes that most folks working in the medical field do not. This enabled me to design and create a backend for reporting.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I try and take care of myself. I try and leave the office each day by 6 p.m. so I can be home in the evenings and spend time with my husband and family. If I need to work extra hours, I go in early rather than stay late. I also try not to work on weekends and pamper myself with massages from time to time.

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Star Wellness?
The answer to both is growth. We had tremendous growth rather quickly, and maintaining quality of service during growth can be a challenge. We eliminated services that were not scalable and focused more on our core business.

What advice can you offer individuals who are seeking to start their own business?
You have to realize that a new business is like a newborn baby. It consumes all your time, money, and energy initially. You have to persevere.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Perception between the sexes. Men are called strong, where a woman can be called bitchy for the same response. When my husband and I attend business owner events together and we meet new people they almost always assume that he's the entrepreneur and I'm the spouse.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
Mentorship makes a huge difference. I have found it difficult to find C-suite female mentors. I am very excited to have been selected for a mentorship class that started in January.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
Margaret Thatcher - she stayed true to her beliefs and believed in free enterprise

What are your hopes for the future of Star Wellness?
To continue our expansion via franchising and become the nationwide leader for corporate wellness onsite screening services.