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Navigating Lab Management: A Journey of Inspiration and Growth

One lab manager shares the story of his career, the skills he learned along the way, and the “mentor” that helped contribute to his success

Lauren Everett

Lauren Everett is the managing editor for Lab Manager. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from SUNY New Paltz and has more than a decade of experience in news...

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Early in Dwayne Henry’s scientific career, he admits that he wasn’t aware that “lab manager” was an official job title within the laboratory environment. At that point, he had seen individuals get promoted into various lab leadership positions based solely on seniority. He saw the issues that resulted because these leaders lacked strong leadership and management skills. Witnessing this, Dwayne was inspired to learn the skill sets of people management, budgeting, communication, etc.

Seizing a spontaneous opportunity

Before he got the chance to dive into this learning journey, the lab in which he worked was shut down and Dwayne was on the job hunt. He decided to visit Montgomery College to inquire about classes he could attend to build on his technical knowledge as he searched for a new job. While speaking with an administrator, he mentioned that he used to work in a lab. The administrator replied that they had an open lab coordinator position and brought him to do an impromptu interview with the department chair.

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Dwayne now laughs that he was a bit surprised in that moment, recalling how he was not dressed for an interview, with his shorts and sneakers. Luckily, he just happened to have a copy of his resume in his backpack. Dwayne spoke with the department head, then immediately interviewed with the dean of the department. The dean thanked Dwayne for coming in and said, “we’ll get back to you.”

Black and white headshot image of Dwayne Henry
Dwayne Henry

Not expecting much, Dwayne returned home to a message on his voicemail. The dean offered him a temporary position to fill in for another staff member’s temporary leave. Ultimately, the staff member didn’t return from leave, and Dwayne was hired full time.

Discovering a “mentor” in Lab Manager

While working in the lab at Montgomery College, Dwayne stumbled upon Lab Manager Magazine. He flipped through the pages and had an epiphany. “There’s actually a lab management-specific position,” he recalls. “That became my only reference and resource [for lab management.] I followed along the path of everything that Lab Manager was saying.”

Dwayne then attended one of Lab Manager's first in-person conferences, which was the spark of motivation he needed to complete certifications in management supervision, DEI, project management, and other key areas to strengthen his skills while also keeping up with the science related to his work in the lab.

"Lab Manager became my mentor because I didn’t have anyone else to consult with to find out how I am supposed to do this role.”

The executives in his department started noticing the things he was implementing—he helped develop and modernize the biology lab’s academic setups as well as its structures and equipment, and upgraded the biology lab safety procedures. He wasn’t yet an official lab manager, but he was exceeding the expectations of his administrators.

Dwayne credits Lab Manager for providing him with the ideas and strategies that he implemented in his workplace. “Lab Manager is deeply integrated into our lab’s processes and our setups.” He says Lab Manager’s print issues (published 10 times per year), webinars, and online content is essentially like taking monthly courses on the various skills needed to excel in lab management.

“Management is multi-faceted. Most people think ‘management’ means sitting at your desk, delegating others to ‘do this, do that’, and manage from a distance. But Lab Manager has shown me that that’s not the case,” explains Dwayne.

Dwayne’s administrators continued to see positive results from the actions he was implementing, and he was officially offered a lab manager title. “Lab Manager became my mentor because I didn’t have anyone else to consult with to find out how I am supposed to do this role,” Dwayne recalls.

A fruitful career and new opportunities

Dwayne is now the instructional lab manager of chemical and biological sciences at Montgomery College, Takoma Park/Silver Spring, MD campus. He has been with Montgomery College for 27+ years and has an extensive list of initiatives, accolades, and programs he has helped launch and/or improve. 

He developed the campus’ first laboratory safety committee and partners with various organizations to provide basic laboratory skills and job training for individuals with disabilities. Dwayne is currently a member of the planning and development of biology and chemistry labs committee for Montgomery College's new Catherine and Isiah Leggett Math and Science Building, completed in 2024. During the fall of 2021, Dwayne was named co-chair of the Montgomery College-wide Biosafety and Infectious Materials committee and is now the co-chair of the college-wide Chemical, Physical, and Biological Hazards subcommittee. During this time, he also accepted an invitation to become a member of the Laboratory Safety Team mentorship committee in the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Health and Safety, and is now also a member of their National Committee for Chemical Safety.

Most recently, Dwayne has joined Lab Manager’s editorial advisory board, marking a full circle moment in his career. “Lab Manager was there from the beginning and continues to be there in my role as a lab manager, and now as I am expanding into other responsibilities.”

Dwayne Henry is featured as a panelist at the upcoming 2024 Lab Manager Leadership Summit, taking place in Denver, CO, April 29-May 1. During the panel discussion, Dwayne and fellow panelists will answer attendee questions and share advice on professional development for lab managers. To learn more about this event, visit