Crystal Chau, BSc’15 works for STEMCELL Technologies Inc. as a Research Associate. She shares her experience leading students and guiding them through their new roles and working together to reach a common goal. Crystal also shares her leadership experience with the Royal Canadian Air Cadet Unit managing and leading youth, as well as the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone.
What ways do you demonstrate leadership?
As a Research Associate at STEMCELL Technologies, I demonstrate leadership through my role as a trainer for flow cytometry. I am responsible for training all current and new employees on the analysis of flow cytometry data. I have also directly supervised and managed co-op students. My involvement with them includes wet lab training, data analysis, and providing feedback. Outside of my work at STEMCELL Technologies, I am the Training Officer at a Royal Canadian Air Cadet Unit. As the Training Officer, I am responsible for scheduling and managing the weekly training activities undertaken by the unit’s 170 youths. These activities include survival exercises, parades, and professional development weekends. In addition, I lead a group of instructors and provide opportunities for them to develop and become the future leaders of the unit.
What lessons have you learned as a leader or from a leader you admire?
One of the most important roles of a leader is to facilitate the growth and success of their team. Take the time to get to know your team members and find out what they are passionate about, what motivates them, and what their personal goals are. As a leader, you should find ways to help them accomplish their goals, which in turn will foster trust and create strong team dynamics. Always be on the lookout for opportunities that will empower them and allow them to further discover their interests. If you genuinely care about your team members, they will flourish and one day become leaders themselves!
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is about bringing together a group of individuals and building a team in which each individual’s strengths can be combined to achieve a common goal. As a leader, supporting and enabling my team to grow and become better versions of themselves is the key.
What do you think were some of the key skills you gained from your time at UBC?
One of the key skills that I gained from my time at UBC is multitasking. During my last year at UBC, I was juggling a full course load, part-time work, VP Finance of MISA, and volunteering with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets. In order to fulfill all my commitments, I learned to prioritize and manage my time efficiently, which is a skill that I continue to use in my everyday life.
What attracted you to this organization?
I did an 8-month co-op at STEMCELL Technologies before being hired on as a part-time employee until I graduated. During my time there, I found the projects that I worked on to be very exciting and I really enjoyed the work environment.
What can alumni do now to prepare for possible entry into your field?
If you would like to enter the biotechnology field, it is important to gain lab experience and be open to learning new techniques as the scientific field is constantly evolving. Another trait that we look for is being detail-orientated, as every little detail can have a large effect on your experimental outcomes. I also recommend developing a network of professionals to give you a better idea of career opportunities.
What is your best career advice?
The key to personal development is to step out of your comfort zone and seek opportunities. Although these experiences may be challenging, there is never any harm in giving it your all and finding out what you are capable of. Even if these challenges don’t pan out the way that you would like them to, they will only build character and enrich your experiences.