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Meet Lisa González, our Scientific Skills Development Coordinator.
How long have you been with the NSW Health Pathology?
My career in pathology started in 1993, and I joined NSW Health Pathology in 1996. That’s a lot. I think the math is 30 years now in pathology.
I took on a maternity relief position as a technical officer in the microbiology laboratory at Liverpool Hospital and then moved into a hospital scientist role in 2009, still in microbiology.
How did you end up here? How did you get into the field?
It was pretty accidental. I wanted to do law.
Home for me was Balmain, Sydney; then my family moved to St Marys in Western Sydney, where I went to high school.
I chose physics at HSC, but soon discovered I had no friends in the subject. So many dropped out and switched to biology instead. After dithering a bit, I too decided to jump ship over to biology, but I missed the boat, and the class was full.
However, I did end up in a different biology class. My teacher started an infectious disease elective and gave us an assignment where we had to research a disease. I chose gonorrhoea, as any teenager would. I just loved the concept. It was the antibiotic sensitivity part that intrigued me the most, so that got me thinking, and I looked up all the places where I could study infectious diseases. That’s how I ended up at UTS. I loved studying to work in pathology, It meant I wasn’t going to be a doctor, so I didn’t feel that pressure, but I got to help the doctor with a diagnosis and give results.
What is your current role?
I started a secondment as a “Scientific Skills Development Coordinator.” It’s a new role for NSW Health Pathology. It’s a 12-month contract position, and I am based in St. Leonards at our 1 Reserve Road office.
Plans for the role: What are you working on now?
My first priority is to get a pilot graduate program off the ground for NSWHP modelled on a program offered in Queensland. The aim is to encourage students who have potentially already done their placement with us as part of their degree to join us as the first step in their scientific careers.
Do you have an analogy to help us understand your work?
I would describe myself as part football coach and part fairy godmother.
My role is to encourage new graduates to join NSWHP and get the most out of their courses and training.
My focus is on new graduates who’ve just completed four years with their heads in books and are now heading out into the professional world. For many, it can be super scary. How do you navigate the real world? What do you need for your first scientific role straight out of university? Many of them are trying to impress and prove themselves straight away, but they need support and guidance to work out what’s required of them in the workplace to succeed.
That’s what I’m here for. To coach and support them in finding their rhythm in their new position.
When that’s up and running, I’ll be their go-to person who helps them put the puzzle pieces together. This is when the fairy godmother persona comes into play. I will provide that level of support and guidance for graduates to apply for positions and make sure they know what they need to do, what responsibilities they have, and what other skills they need to develop. Essentially, I am their cheerleader.
What motivates you? What are you passionate about?
In my work, I get my motivation from seeing people feel comfortable being themselves. To see their authentic personality come through and see them view it as a strength, not something to hide. Everyone has talents, and if I can help them shine, it makes work so much more pleasant and a fun place to be.
I love getting to know people, building relationships, and working out what they need from us to do their best.
What would you be doing if you hadn’t started your career in pathology?
Initially, I thought I’d do law until I realised that was not for me—too much pressure.
I think I’d have ended up in a customer service role, working with people in a theatre environment, perhaps as an usher at the movies.
What makes you get up in the morning?
I get energy from knowing I might brighten somebody’s day.
Sharing what I love with others and vice versa—others sharing their good things with me gives me a boost. I believe everyone likes to be noticed. No one likes to be invisible. For me, it’s that shared sense of connection that makes it all worthwhile at the end of the day.
What’s your favourite show or podcast at the moment?
I’m addicted to ‘Ted Lasso,” and though I’m a bit sad, I think I can see the end of the road. It looks like this will be the last season.
At the moment, I’m listening to the podcast ‘Good Life Project’ by Johnathan Fields. It has some great perspectives. Oh, and anything by the Holy Trinity– Brene Brown, Simon Sinek or Adam Grant. I love Brene Brown. I attended an emotional intelligence workshop in 2021, and they showed an animated video of her on empathy. It truly inspired me, and I’ve devoured everything she’s done since then.
What’s your secret talent?
Well, believe it or not, I’m a trained industrial seamstress. It used to be called ‘garment assembly’. I was 7 months pregnant when I turned up to do my work placement. They sent me home “for safety reasons” so I didn’t end up getting the full qualification. Still, I know my stuff.
I used to make dance costumes. I volunteered once to make costumes for a Latin dance company. I didn’t know what to expect when I said yes and found myself frantically making nearly 200 costumes. That was an eye-opener for me, and my time management skills were perhaps optimistic. I’m not sure how well-made they were, but I quickly worked out who my friends were!
I still do it for fun. I have an industrial sewing machine and overlocker and make costumes for my family and friends. My daughters all love to perform.
Fun facts about you
I spend my weekends enjoying the sun in my garden. We have an abundance of amaranth and limes about to come in. I love growing our own winter veggies. Nothing beats fresh asparagus. But as winter comes and daylight hours are scarce, there’s less time to be out there, and it’s lacking some love right now.
I’m a terrible cook, though. I’m certainly not a traditional housewife or homemaker in that sense, but I’m lucky enough to enjoy the meals my husband cooks.
I’m grateful for my chickens. I have seven chickens that lay fresh eggs every day. They’re so well-mannered and don’t come up to the house unless we’re late feeding them. We have more than enough eggs for us, plus a few extra to on-sell.
Want to join our Pathology family and start your career with us? Find all our vacancies at https://pathology.health.nsw.gov.au/careers/career-opportunities/