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.”