Leading From Every Level

Written by Lesley Markham

Members of ASTC’s Leadership and Field Development (LFD) Committee hosted a panel to help the 60+ participants think about their careers and the careers of those for whom they have responsibility in their institutions.

The panelists shared their own career paths and demonstrated with great humor how they each got to where they are now – for Ervin Gourdine from Discovery Place, Charlotte, North Carolina, that meant starting out as a banker. An early career goal for Cheronda Frazier from the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium, Camden, New Jersey, was to be a seal trainer. Jennifer Martin from TELUS Spark, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, shared how she studied for an MBA and learned to speak the language of finance, accounting, and marketing – all critical components for running an institution. Preeti Gupta from the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, worked her way up by understanding and believing in the mission of her institution.

Joanne Haas, executive director of the Kentucky Science Center, Louisville, encouraged participants to support their team’s growth at every level by creating a culture of opportunity that helps young people move successfully through the business.

Kate Bennett from the Rochester Museum and Science Center, New York, summarized some essential tips for career advancement before the participants broke into small groups for discussions with the panel members. The groups provided short feedback on the many themes that had emerged. The discussion demonstrated that leadership really does come from every level and is essential to build a vibrant institution.

Some top tips included:

  • Know yourself – your strengths and areas for improvement
  • Look for opportunities to do work in other departments
  • Ask to lead a project
  • Sign up for academic and professional development opportunities
  • Write articles, blogs, and editorials
  • Start a conversation in your institution about a specific topic
  • Come to conference – even if you need to pay for all or some of it yourself
  • Take advantage of networking within and outside of your institution
  • Join the board of another organization
  • Accept your ability to sometimes fail
  • Find a mentor and be a mentor

Bennett and Margaret Glass, director of professional development at ASTC, stressed that the Leadership and Field Development Committee wants feedback and ideas from the field. The message was “take responsibility for your own learning,” and let ASTC know how they can support you.

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