Our very own board member, Edna Parker who serves as the Vice President of Quality at LabCorp, was featured in LabCorp’s newsletter, The Point. Parker is just one example of women leading the way in Alamance County. We are proud of her long history on our board.
The article below is from LabCorp’s The Point which sets out to highlight women’s leadership.
Edna Parker, Vice President, National Office of Quality
Community service has always held a prominent place in Edna Parker’s family life. This past year, North Carolina’s Alamance County Board of Commissioners selected her as a co-winner for Citizen Volunteer of the Year. Edna was nominated for her public service efforts in improving the health, safety and welfare of county citizens. She is an active member of several boards and her community service has included working with numerous non-profit organizations throughout the years. Edna’s compassion for people coupled with her zeal for quality is a driving force for cultivating positive changes throughout her professional and personal endeavors.
What is your current role at LabCorp?
I am responsible for quality management for our Diagnostics segment, which includes quality systems design and implementation, quality system auditing, regulatory strategy, quality operations support, data collection and metrics reporting, response and remediation to internal and external inspections and audits, and inspection readiness and support.
I interact with people across the enterprise (senior leaders, lab managers, customer service, etc.), providing guidance and direction for complying with laboratory regulations, assisting with responses to requests for proposal, overseeing our quality audit program, addressing client concerns related to quality, writing corporate quality policies, and developing innovative ways to help our business partners develop new business opportunities.I serve as a liaison to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for laboratory regulations, work with the American Clinical Laboratory Association to promote LabCorp’s position in legislation and regulations, and review and offer interpretation to laboratory regulatory requirements. From ensuring laboratories meet accreditation requirements and due diligence reviews to training in root cause analysis and cost of quality, there are no limits to the issues and questions to which I respond.
What has your career path been like?
I began my career in hospital laboratories as a medical technologist, senior technologist and chief technologist. I came to work for LabCorp (then Roche Biomedical laboratories) in 1984 as a laboratory manager in the hospital and clinic lab management area known as Lab Concepts. In late 1985, I was promoted to assistant technical director in that same department. In 1990, I served as Regional Manager, Quality Assurance and Safety. Next, as Associate Vice President, I assumed duties as a National QA Manager and Divisional Compliance Manager. Then, as Vice President, National Office of Quality, my role expanded to oversight of quality for the routine clinical laboratories. I assumed my current role in January 2019.
What are some challenges for women in the scientific community?
Women in science may face the challenge of myths. We may not get a chance because of misperceptions. It might be that we are not perceived as being serious about our careers, or that we aren’t in the game for the long haul, or that we don’t have the intellectual or business savvy to advance in scientific roles. All of that is untrue, of course.
I believe that women who strive for excellence can overcome these common myths through perseverance and not allowing the obstacles and negativity to keep us down. Fortunately, LabCorp has some strong women in significant scientific roles who are role models for anyone who may be struggling to become of a part of the scientific community.
Since joining the company, describe an experience you’ve had, or a project/program you’ve worked on that you are proudest of.
While I am proud of my personal contribution to the work and success of LabCorp, I don’t work in a vacuum. Building a great team of quality professionals who are experts at what they do tops the list. My quality team makes my job easier and fun. They are such a close, hard-working, dedicated team. From monthly calls where we share best practices across the company to hosting an annual Quality department conference, the team continually learns from one another. I do my best to instill a commitment to do the best for our patient. I believe our company’s success is built on our people.
I have had many other rewarding experiences throughout my career. One important change that has resulted is how quality is preserved by others. Quality professionals have historically been viewed as the “police”. While there may be policing in what we do, I have worked hard to ensure we have built a strong collaborative relationship with our partners in operations.
What are the leadership qualities you bring?
I bring a solid work ethic, integrity, and a strong commitment to quality, excellence, and open, honest communication. I work hard not to be just a boss or manager but rather a true leader and mentor. I believe in leading by example while partnering with my team, supporting them and using opportunities to teach, train, and develop. I hope my staff see me as an open, honest leader worthy of the title.
What are the qualities you seek in a leader?
Adaptability comes to mind first. LabCorp is a dynamic, global health sciences leader and with that comes constant change. Further, I seek a leader with strong character and vision, with the ability to grow future leaders who value and are guided by the same high standards of ethics and honesty.
Has being a woman shaped your journey in science?
This is difficult to assess because my path is all I know. If it has shaped my journey, most likely it has been a driving force. Throughout my education and professional life, I have been driven to be the very best at completing whatever task lay before me. I have worked to never give anyone a reason to question my ability or dedication to excellence.
Why does having women at the table matter?
I think that question demonstrates a key point. Does anyone ever ask about having men at the table? Not likely.
I think the question is really, ‘Why would women be excluded from the table?’ They should not be excluded based on myths and biases. Obviously, women can have brilliant minds, innovative ideas, as well as life experiences that can help drive success. Also, women are part of the diversity that a business should want represented in decision-making in an effort to survive and thrive – particularly in a global setting.
Just think about the responsibility of women in business who are also wives, moms, sports team coaches, or community volunteers. Many women have learned to multi-task and be successful at each task. The skill set needed to accomplish those tasks can translate into success in the workplace. Who wouldn’t want to have a woman at the table?
It’s important to find a way to get a seat at the table. If you don’t get that invitation, don’t let that stop you. Sometimes people may not know about you; let them know what you can bring to the discussion and ask to be at the table. The worst they can do is say “no” to you.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome as you advanced within your career?
At times, it was challenging to be heard. I had to learn how to express myself, to be confident in using my “voice”. There is a balance between being assertive and being overbearing. To that end, one of my mentors told me I needed to become more of a bulldog. I’ll never forget that. Being a bulldog is not me, although I’ve learned to be more forceful on occasion.
What is your advice to the next generation of female leaders?
Work hard, keep your focus and remember why you chose the profession. Know there is nothing our male counterparts can do that you cannot do as a woman – in science or business.
Strong women in my life personally and professionally have helped shaped my professional journey. We each should consider how we can help someone along the way. Find and be a strong mentor. We are unique and have much to offer as women.
LabCorp’s Women in Leadership Profiles
At LabCorp, we recognize that it is only when we create the space for our colleagues’ voices to be heard that innovation can truly happen. We hope that Edna’s voice inspires and encourages LabCorp employees across the enterprise. If you are a woman in leadership at LabCorp and would like to share your story, we want to hear from you. Please reach out to Nancy Marte (Nancy.Marte@covance.com) for more information.