Lina Cornell is the founder and General Manager of VNS Nursing Agency. In 2019, PeopleIN acquired VNS. We sat down with Lina to learn about the journey of the business from the early days to navigating Covid-19 and beyond.
‘We started in Melbourne in 2000 and we established the nursing agency in response to the need for the supply of specialty staff.’
Lina says ‘the key to success was really having the organisation run by people with a nursing background. It definitely helped having an understanding of the industry and what’s it’s like to be a nurse.’
‘It became apparent quite early, that if we really wanted to grow we had to establish ourselves to be more of a generalist agency rather than 'a boutique agency.’
In 2019, when PeopleIN approached Lina to acquire VNS It was definitely the right time for us’.
‘We were not on the market per se but we were definitely looking to move. We’d had the agency for around 20 years by then. We knew it was time that if we wanted the business to continue growing, we needed to be part of a more national organisation.’
Letting go of the business ‘was definitely emotional.’ It was ‘did we really want to let go of it? I don’t regret any of it.’
VNS recently experienced one of the strongest months on record, with a 40% increase in billed hours, and Lina is certain the acquisition has helped with the continued growth of VNS. ‘Without a doubt if it hadn’t of been for those guys we wouldn’t be where we are today. It’s been amazing.’
On being a manager Lina says, ’it’s just having the confidence to take on the challenges, whether it’s managing a workforce through the Covid situation - being able to confidently put ten people in a Covid-affected nursing home and know that you’re going to be ok because your staff are well-trained. Instilling the confidence in the people that work here.’
'We know that the facilities need our staff, we know that we can do this and we can do it safely.'
A few achievements stand out in the twenty-plus year history of VNS.
‘At the beginning we started off as quite a niche, boutique agency and we made that decision to compete with more national organisations to be able to compete in that space.’
Following the challenge of the last eighteen months, ’I think our biggest achievement is to be here and to be here in the black in 2021.’
For people in PeopleIN keen to move into management roles, Lina offers the voice of experience.
‘For me it’s about taking advice from people. Learning from your mistakes and not being afraid of making mistakes. Employing people who may know more than you, and not being afraid of that.’