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Grasping leadership outside the laboratory

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7th November, 2022

Louise Carey, a cytogeneticist at NSW Health Pathology’s Randwick laboratory, has been awarded the 2022 Royal College of Pathologists of Australia (RCPA) Bev Rowbotham Pathology Leaders Award, encouraging her to inspire a new generation of leaders.

For Louise Carey, learn­ing how to become a bet­ter leader is becom­ing just as impor­tant to her career as look­ing down a micro­scope to study tiny changes in the struc­ture of chromosomes.

Ms Carey has been award­ed the 2022 Roy­al Col­lege of Pathol­o­gists of Aus­tralia (RCPA) Bev Row­both­am Pathol­o­gy Lead­ers award, which will allow her to com­plete the Aus­tralian Insti­tute of Com­pa­ny Direc­tors (AICD) com­pa­ny direc­tors course – a five-day busi­ness man­age­ment and lead­er­ship program.

She cred­its her suc­cess in tak­ing on more lead­er­ship roles to the NSW Health Pathol­o­gy Emerg­ing Lead­ers Pro­gram, which she com­plet­ed in 2018.

“I was lucky it was before COVID, so we had quite a lot of face-to-face ses­sions,” she said.

“We had an excel­lent exter­nal lead­er­ship coach and we learnt about dif­fer­ent aspects of lead­er­ship, we learnt a lot about adap­tive lead­er­ship, rela­tion­al lead­er­ship, and I met many peo­ple in diverse roles.

“I’ve estab­lished a net­work now across the organ­i­sa­tion, that’s real­ly grown from that oppor­tu­ni­ty, because a lot of the time I’m just in this lit­tle office in Randwick.”

Ms Carey admits she has built her career in cyto­ge­net­ics by chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo and not giv­ing up at the first hurdle.

“I’ve always been inter­est­ed in genet­ics. When I was a teenag­er, I was a lit­tle bit nerdy.

“I tried to diag­nose things in my fam­i­ly, by look­ing at their blood under a micro­scope I received for a Christ­mas gift, but I didn’t under­stand about clot­ting, so I could nev­er see anything.

Ms Carey worked in haema­tol­ogy and micro­bi­ol­o­gy for a few years, but nev­er gave up on her goal of cyto­ge­net­ics, which is the study of inher­i­tance in rela­tion to the struc­ture and func­tion of chromosomes.

She land­ed her first job in genet­ics after doing some vol­un­teer work at NSW Health Pathology’s lab at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hos­pi­tal and study­ing genet­ic counselling.

Her work is now focused most­ly on repro­duc­tive and oncol­o­gy cytoge­nomics, which includes pre­na­tal test­ing for Down Syn­drome, cou­ples hav­ing fer­til­i­ty issues and haema­to­log­i­cal malignancy.

Ms Carey said she expects the RCPA Bev Row­both­am Lead­ers award will open more doors as she expands her lead­er­ship skills.

“So, it’s to real­ly give you those skills to help with deci­sion-mak­ing strat­e­gy, in boards or com­mit­tees, out­side of your local lab­o­ra­to­ry process­es,” Ms Carey said.

“I’m already on the board for the med­ical sci­en­tist cer­ti­fi­ca­tion scheme (CMLS), so I want to learn more about how boards work and how to be a bet­ter director.

“I was also chair of the ASDG which is the Aus­tralasian Soci­ety of Diag­nos­tic Genomics, and I recent­ly became deputy prin­ci­pal exam­in­er for the RCPA Fac­ul­ty of Science.”

She said the Emerg­ing Lead­ers Pro­gram had changed the tra­jec­to­ry of her career and helped her to inspire oth­ers in her team, par­tic­u­lar­ly when it comes to change.

“I do like change, and I think one of the big things about tak­ing lead­er­ship train­ing, is to help with change, and to help oth­ers nav­i­gate change.

“I think if that can be your focus, then you’re doing some­thing right.”

Ms Carey said she hopes she can con­tin­ue to inspire her team to devel­op their own lead­er­ship skills and grasp oppor­tu­ni­ties to move ahead.

Although she acknowl­edged not every­one would have the same lead­er­ship ambitions.

“I’ve got a real pas­sion for my team and edu­cat­ing them.

“I want every­one to come to work and do some­thing ful­fill­ing, and that looks dif­fer­ent for everyone.

“Some peo­ple want career pro­mo­tion, oth­ers not so much. I still think they need to come to work and be hap­py and fulfilled.

“So, it’s up to us to con­tin­ue inspir­ing oth­er peo­ple and I think the future looks pret­ty bright.”


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