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2023 Leadership Excellence Awards Winner Spotlight: Leanne Davey

Winner of the 2023 Overall Lab Manager Excellence Award, Leanne Davey discusses her professional background, the importance of keeping a learning mindset, and the importance of work-life balance

by Lab Manager
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Leanne Davey is the senior director of clinical assay development and PMO at Waters Technologies Ireland Ltd. Davey was nominated by her peers for the 2023 Leadership Excellence Awards and received recognition as the recipient of the Overall Lab Manager Excellence Award. This winner of this award exemplifies all the traits, knowledge, and skills needed to successfully run a laboratory.

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Leanne Davey
Credit: Leanne Davey

Q: Can you briefly discuss your background and what you do in your current role?

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A: I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an honors degree in natural sciences with a major in chemistry in 2008 and immediately started working in research and development (R&D). I spend two years in pharmaceutical R&D before moving to medical devices. I have spent the last 13 years at Waters Corporation, where I have been fortunate to receive lots of wonderful progression opportunities. I now lead our clinical assay development and project management teams in the Waters Clinical Business Unit. In my current role, I lead a team that is responsible for the design and development of in vitro diagnostic devices utilizing liquid chromatography mass spectrometry technology. Our products are used in the areas such as therapeutic drug monitoring, newborn screening, toxicology, and endocrinology.

Q: What was your reaction to winning this award, and what does it mean to you to win?

A: I am truly honored to be this year’s recipient of this prestigious award. I feel incredibly lucky to have the role I do and to work with an amazing team in Waters, who are truly focused on solving problems that matter. I’m very grateful to them and to all those people who have helped to shape my career over the years.

Q: What do you value the most about Lab Manager’s offerings/content?

A: I appreciate the wide variety of topics that Lab Manager covers from technology, leadership, products and innovation to diversity in STEM. I find I can always learn something new in every issue. I also value the online resources such as whitepapers, application notes, and webinars as well as new product insights that Lab Manager provides.

Q: What resources or individuals did you learn your leadership and management skills from?

A: It’s a mixture of learning from my own leaders and managers through the years, learning from leadership programs I have participated in and learning from those I work with. I continue to learn now and evolve as a leader. I think it’s important to keep a learning mindset—every new relationship provides an opportunity to learn and develop as a leader.

Q: In your opinion and experience, what is the most important quality or trait a good leader needs to have?

A: I think integrity is the most important quality for a leader to have. For me, integrity means being honest, trustworthy, and doing what I believe is right. I think this fosters a culture of trust within a team that ensures open communication and transparency. These are critical to team success and to a positive and engaging work culture.

Q: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

A: I love being active and hanging out with my kids outside work. I have three boys aged five, seven, and 10 and they are so much fun. Having a work-life balance is so important and ensures that you keep perspective and stay balanced.  For me, maintaining a flexible balance allows me to deal with the tough stuff more effectively.

Q: What do you think are some common misconceptions about good leadership and management? 

A: Sometimes people may think that leadership and management are one in the same or that one is more important than the other, when in fact companies need both to excel. In some cases, people are both good leaders and good managers, but anyone can be a good leader—regardless of position or title. To me, good leaders motivate and inspire teams to achieve a shared vision through open communication, lead by example, establish relationships built on trust and respect, and act decisively. Good management is about organization, setting clear expectations, developing your team, and making sure the team is working effectively to achieve the companies’ goals.

Q: What’s the best piece of management and/or leadership advice you can share with our readers?

A: Lead by example. Always exhibit the behaviors and competencies you expect to see from your team and always be open, willing to learn and to take chances—say yes to opportunities even when they are hard!

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years in your role?

A: I hope that my team will continue to launch new, exciting products that will be impactful to global healthcare. We have a very strong sense of purpose in what we do, and seeing the team be successful and fulfill their own individual sense of purpose motivates and inspires me.