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Thriving in a Culture of Continuous Learning

Today’s fast-moving business and operational landscape calls for organisations and their staff to adapt to changing circumstances, and to always be learning. A culture of continuous learning and encouraging the professional development of our team, is important at Envirolab Services.


As one of the longest-serving team members, since the formation of Envirolab Services, in February 2005, Nancy Zhang was earlier this year promoted to the position of Laboratory Manager of the Sydney Laboratory. In her new role, Nancy helps the Sydney laboratory achieve its strategic goals by overseeing the daily operations. Nancy ensures the effective and efficient allocation of resourcing, and that our core capabilities in scientific environmental contamination testing and reporting are conducted in a safe manner and in adherence to regulatory and industry specifications and testing methods, including NATA Accreditation.


To keep abreast of the latest technology and trends in management and leadership skills, Nancy attended the Australian Laboratory Management Conference, which was recently held over three-days, Monday 11 – Wednesday 13 November 2019. Nancy tells us how the conference has enhanced her skills in taking on her new responsibilities and improving her performance in her new role.      


What did the conference involve?

The conference kicked off with a one-day workshop, “Techniques for Bringing Positive Changes in a Laboratory Environment". The session focused on the science behind people’s behaviour and decision-making within a fast-paced lab setting. I learnt techniques to improve my leadership capabilities, team collaboration and managing stress when under pressure. We also explored mindfulness and meditation and how we can effectively integrate these practices into our everyday lives and working environments.


For the remaining two days, 15 speakers shared their expertise on how trends, including big data, AI, and digital transformation might, continue to shape operations in a laboratory setting. It’s certainly an exciting time with technology driving new opportunities.


Considering that so much change is happening, questions do arise within, and possibly outside our scientific community and industry. For example, are we ready for change? How do we prepare for this change? How can change occur when change is hard?


In being part of the leadership team at Envirolab Sydney, I’m looking forward to apply my learning and taking action to drive continued improvement for each individual as well as the teams.


What were some of the takeaways?

Overall I found the conference very inspirational and packed with information, which is useful and relevant to our work. The talk on gas safety and the agile approach to lab energy management provided great insight. Well done to the conference organisers for putting together thoughtful content and executing such a great conference.


Conference Theme: Change Management in an Agile World

The concept of continuous improvement is an important element found in Agile as well as Lean practices. From our chat with Nancy, the principles of gas safety and laboratory energy management, for example, require a mindset of continuous improvement.

The emergence of agile in science or "agile science," might still be in its early stages. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how agile science as digital disruption may transform the industry.


About the Australian Laboratory Management Conference

Organised by Science Industry Australia (SIA) and Australasian Laboratory Managers Association (ALMA), the 2019 Australasian Laboratory Management Conference featured a range of workshops and speakers.


The 2019 theme, “Change Management in an Agile World” highlights good project delivery at an ever-increasing rate in today's business climate of various organisations including laboratories.

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