Architecture, Banking & Finance, and Manufacturing

Q&A: Janet Veldhouse

June 26, 2018
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Janet Veldhouse
Janet Veldhouse. Courtesy Steelcase

Editor’s note: Each Q&A in the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a woman from the region who’s influential, a rising face in her industry or doing interesting work. Submit tips on potential Q&A subjects to tgortsema at grbj dot com.

Janet Veldhouse is the vice president of global operations finance at Steelcase.

Veldhouse is responsible for supporting global manufacturing operations, including strategy, localization and placement decisions, throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

Previously, Veldhouse was chief financial officer for Asia Pacific and assistant corporate controller for Grand Rapids-based Steelcase, as well as director of financial reporting for Spectrum Health Hospitals. 

She started her career with 14 years in public accounting as both a certified public accountant and certified fraud examiner.

Biggest career break?

My role as CFO of Asia Pacific for Steelcase. The opportunity to live in Hong Kong for three years and travel throughout Asia supporting our business there gave me the opportunity to become a global citizen, learn the front end of our business and made me realize that I am more resourceful than I ever imagined!

Proudest moment? 

I don’t believe that anything in someone’s life can be defined in a moment — but the culmination of many moments! For me, I am most proud of the moments that have resulted in my three children becoming wonderful, compassionate and interesting adults.

Best advice you’ve ever received? 

To read the book “The Four Agreements,” by Miguel Ruiz. His four “agreements”: 1) Be impeccable with your word, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions and 4) Always do your best. I refer back to them frequently!

How did you make your first dollar? 

As kids, my dad would offer a few dollars every summer for whoever caught the biggest fish at our family cottage in northern Michigan — I am pretty sure I won a few times (although my brother and sister’s memory may be different!).  My first job, waitressing and bartending in the restaurant industry, helped get me through school.

Most-treasured possession? 

My iPhone! It is a “thing” that allows me to manage my crazy schedule, stay in touch with my three children as they live and travel all over the country and stay close to what is going on in the world.

Dream job? 

Besides my current role? I would love to give back to my community in some capacity either through teaching or working for a nonprofit — I think what Michelle Van Dyke is doing for the United Way and our community is admirable.

If you were president for a day, you would … ? 

Now that’s a landmine question! Call a summit of leaders who could impact global policies beyond my one day in office and then fly someplace in Air Force One and definitely stay off Twitter.

Last book you read? 

Excluding business/management books, the last one was “Devil in the White City,” by Eric Larson. I love to read, but my schedule right now does not allow time. I do listen to a lot of podcasts (“The Daily,” “TED” and “Hidden Brain”) to try to stay current!

Last search term you googled? 

Anthropomorphism. My daughter referred it to me in relation to how I talk about my grand-dog, Bella

Your worst habit?

I am admittedly Type A. And my family will tell you that I try to control some insignificant things that I really should just let go. From dinner prep to laundry, I have an opinion on how it should be done!

To unwind, you like to … ? 

Tap into endorphins! I am an Orangetheory gym member and working out there allows me to manage my stress and reminds me to take care of me!

Dream vacation?

Take my husband and adult children for a vacation in Spain and Italy! I love the history, the people and the food. While I have traveled to Spain for work, I have not had the opportunity to spend time immersed as a tourist, and I would love to share the experience with my family. 

Favorite food? 

Anything Asian, including Thai and dim sum. But my real weakness is Indian food! When I am in India (we have a plant there), I completely over-indulge!

Person you most admire? 

There are so many people who have done great things and I admire their accomplishments. But the person I most admire is someone who I know and had the privilege of working with at Steelcase, Nancy Hickey. She has been a role model for me and so many others of leadership.

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