Bellevue, WA-based Aegis Living has hired former Starbucks executive Kris Engskov to serve as the company’s new president as it percolates growth plans to meet an expected increase in demand from baby boomers, the oldest of whom are turning 73 this year.
Engskov will step into the role in late spring, after becoming more familiar with various aspects of the privately held assisted living and memory care community operator, according to Aegis Living. He will succeed Judy Meleliat, who is retiring but will continue as president for now. Meleliat has held the title of president for six years after three years as chief marketing officer.
“Kris brings exceptional experience driving business development and enterprise growth that is highly relevant as Aegis Living continues to innovate and offer a premium assisted living experience,” Aegis Living founder and CEO Dwayne J. Clark said in a statement. “His passion for fostering a nurturing and caring workplace also stands out as a fit for Aegis Living’s hallmark ‘employee first’ culture that is at the heart of how we help our residents live their best lives each day.”
Founded in 1997, Aegis Living’s “employee first” culture has meant offering employee appreciation programs including a “Dream Big Lottery” during which all-expenses-paid vacations to surprise destinations are given away, “Appreciation Days” for time off, and discounts on massages, haircuts and prepared meals from community kitchens. In 2017, the company was featured on a Glassdoor list of 15 companies deemed to have excellent work-life balance, and that same year the company was named to Glassdoor’s list of Best Places to Work for 2017, becoming the first senior living organization to make the list of large employers.
Aegis Living was attracted to Engskov’s wide-ranging experience — from brand strategy and marketing to real estate development to technology implementation to customer experiences and operational excellence — gained over 16 years at the Seattle-based coffee and coffeehouse company, where he most recently was executive vice president of business integration.
Also during his time with Starbucks, Engskov was in charge of several of the company’s global businesses in roles including president of the company’s flagship U.S. retail business, a position in which he led 170,000 employees across 8,300 stores, and president of the company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa division, where he spent five years building the Starbucks brand across 30+ countries.
He joins Aegis Living at a time when it has eight assisted living communities under development in Washington and California to add to the 31 communities it already operates in Washington, California and Nevada.
In addition to Starbucks, Engskov also worked for Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle-based venture capital fund, but he has a degree in public administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and spent much of his early career in public service. From 1993 to 2000, he served in the White House, first as assistant press secretary and later as a personal aide to President Bill Clinton.
“I have known Aegis and its stellar reputation for a long time and have been particularly impressed with its culture and mission helping residents live their best lives with dignity and respect,” Engskov said in a statement. “That commitment, alongside the Aegis people-first culture that supports it, creates an amazing platform for care quality, excellence and growth. I can’t wait to join a team that shares such strong values and look forward to bringing my own experiences in pursuit of this critical mission.”
Aegis said that since the company’s inception, senior leaders from the hospitality, high-end retail and restaurant industries have been welcomed with the belief that they provide new perspectives to transform programs. Recent hires came from Amazon, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis and Wynn Hotels and Nordstrom.