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Laying the leadership foundation

Michael Kawaja (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) has gradually assumed more and more administrative duties during his career. While years of education prepared him to research and teach in the neuroscience field, he never received any formal training for chairing a committee or leading a program.

That’s why Dr. Kawaja jumped at the opportunity to enroll in the Health Sciences Leadership Series when he saw it advertised last fall.

“I honed some of those leadership skills ‘on the job’ as chair of the medical admissions committee and co-ordinator of the neuroscience graduate program, but I am always looking for training opportunities,” he says. “The Health Sciences Leadership Series really covers the breadth of what I am responsible for in my current administrative duties and has helped me identify areas where I can improve.”

Dr. Kawaja plays an important liaison role as the associate dean of life sciences and biochemistry in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Most students in life sciences and biochemistry programs are enrolled in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, while the majority of professors and curriculum developers are associated with the Faculty of Health Sciences. Dr. Kawaja says he is already applying the lessons he has learned about interpersonal communication and conflict resolution to his interactions with representatives from the two faculties.

[Dr. Moran]
Dr. Onofre Moran-Mendoza (right) believes the Health Sciences Leadership Series has improved his interactions with respirology colleagues.

Onofre Moran-Mendoza (Medicine) doesn’t have the same level of administrative duties as his colleague Dr. Kawaja, but he has found the series just as beneficial.

“Many of us in the Faculty of Health Sciences have some degree of leadership responsibility: for instance, in our relationship with residents,” says Dr. Moran-Mendoza, an associate professor in the Division of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. “If I eventually get a higher leadership role, this course has provided me with the knowledge and tools to interact more positively with people across the organization and to better understand and deal with conflict.”

The series is presented by the Human Resources Department in collaboration with Faculty Development, Faculty of Health Sciences. Shannon Hill, HR Learning and Development Specialist, is pleased with the positive feedback from the participants.

“The faculty members enjoy having a safe yet challenging environment where they can discuss their strengths and weaknesses and learn from their colleagues,” she says. “We are hopeful the success of this first custom leadership series could pave the way for the development of similar programs for other faculties at Queen’s.”

Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website for more information about the series. If you have questions or would like more information, contact Ms. Hill by email or phone 613-533-6000 ext. 74175.