A hematology lab leader with a military background puts his team first
When Kristopher “Kris” Huffman began his career in hematology, he never imagined that something he could do at work could end up positively impacting over a million people. Huffman joined Labcorp over 5 years ago as a lab manager after going to college for nursing and deciding that was not the right path for him.
And that’s because he wanted more leadership opportunities. “Working for hospitals is nice—you get to lead a small team. But because of my military background, I wanted to be part of a larger vision.”
According to Huffman, hematology at Labcorp sees over 500,000 samples a week—over 20 million a year. Now a lab manager III, Huffman and his team of technicians analyze and work with nearly 1.5 million samples annually.
“That’s 1.5 million lives,” Huffman says, “and that’s a mother, a father, a sister, a brother—every barcode is a life.”
If Huffman had to pick one factor that continues to drive him, it’s the daily challenges—and the pivots—needed to navigate them. For him, leadership looks like someone who removes obstacles for their team. If he’s not successful in navigating these daily pivots, then he lets his team down, he attests.
“My job is to provide them with resources to do their jobs better,” Huffman says. Managing a team of technicians while meeting the needs of a global life sciences company is a challenging balance to find and then keep stable, but Huffman is more than up to the task.
He recalls one instance where his lab was being outfitted for new instruments—but first they needed to be tested for accuracy and compliance. Normally, it would take about 6-8 weeks to hit necessary benchmarks, including a minimum of 95% of the instruments and their functionalities to pass inspection. However, an increasing queue of samples forced Huffman’s team into a time crunch and his team’s leaders needed a much quicker turnaround time on inspection. Huffman knew hitting the 95% benchmark was going to be difficult—but through strategic planning, triage and key leadership principles, the team was able to deliver in less than half the usual time frame.
Looking around, Huffman says he sees several colleagues who have been with Labcorp for 25, 30 and even more than 40 years who want the exact same thing.
Huffman says he’s in good company in hematology—and we’re glad he’s an important part of our bigger company, too.
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