How this study director identifies the next generation of leaders
Julia Detert's passion for her work as study director and people manager stems from the ever-changing nature of the field. She thrives in an environment of constant learning and adaptation required to meet the complex needs of clients.
“One of the things that has kept me engaged is seeing all the new things coming up, new questions being asked and new tools being used,” Detert says. “We have people who’ve been here 20 years and they’ll still say, ‘Huh, that’s a new one. We haven’t done that before.’”
Labcorp study directors are considered leaders in their respective areas, responsible for overseeing multiple projects, managing tight timelines and collaborating with diverse client groups. To be successful in the role, Detert says study directors should possess certain qualities: self-motivation, strong time management, adaptability and the ability to stay calm under pressure. As both a study director and people manager, Detert not only runs studies for clients but also helps hire and develop new study directors.
Detert describes her leadership style as hands-off, preferring to act as a coach rather than a manager who gets deeply involved in the details of her team's projects. Her focus lies in providing her team with the necessary resources to succeed, empowering them to take ownership of their work and make decisions independently.
For those starting their careers at Labcorp or seeking to move up within the company, Detert advises taking on additional responsibilities outside of one's own role, seeking diverse experiences and taking advantage of educational opportunities.
“Are there areas in developing new methods, projects in writing SOPs, different aspects of your job outside of the day-to-day things that you could be doing? We look for people who have pushed to get the education and experience that you otherwise wouldn’t get in that role. It shows that you have initiative (to develop further).”
As one example, Detert shared how a study director in the cell and gene therapy therapeutic area recently identified a growing need for ocular studies among clients. He began strategizing ways Labcorp could meet that need, such as through development of more rooms for ocular studies so that Labcorp could become a preferred partner and leading source for drug developers in the ocular space. That level of initiative is not only encouraged but necessary in the ever-evolving field of drug development.
“I really like the study director job because no two days are the same,” Detert says. “The studies we’re running are getting increasingly complex. We’re constantly learning, constantly adapting what we’re doing to meet each new client request, address a common question or find answers to something we've never seen before.”
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