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News > Club News > WIB-Seattle News > WIB-Seattle Leadership Spotlight: Margaret Kenrick

WIB-Seattle Leadership Spotlight: Margaret Kenrick



Margaret Kenrick
Director of Commercial Education at NanoString Technologies 
WIB-Seattle Programs Chair


Margaret’s career in science actually sprang first from a love of dance, which brought her to Seattle. She started her young adulthood as a ballet dancer, dancing for the Pacific Northwest Ballet, where she found that maintaining the health of her body was a top priority. “Health really had to be the number one,” she said. “Our only tool was our body.” Margaret’s parents were both scientists themselves and while they had some reservations about her dancing career, Margaret recalled that one of her high school teachers said, “Let her go. She'll come back to biology.” After a car accident brought her professional dance career to an end, Margaret found that the teacher’s prophecy came true. She studied biology at UCLA, taking a wide variety of classes. "It was so exciting to learn about medicine, genetics, and animal behavior,” she said. “I was so excited to be learning about the body and disease development, how all that was happening." From there, Margaret went on to earn her master’s in biology from UC Riverside. She also began teaching a class online about the human body’s organ systems. “There's just so much when you deal with a human that you have to tease apart,” she said. “It’s never ending, but always improving."

After 20 years in the San Francisco Bay Area’s biotech scene, Margaret pursued a doctorate in education in organizational leadership from Brandman University. She learned how to support team development and change management and planned to take it back to the biotech industry. “NanoString reached out,” she said. “And I jumped at the chance, and I moved back to Seattle the very next week.” Margaret recalled that some of the women in NanoString went to the WIB-Seattle holiday party and brought her along. From then on, she attended several WIB networking events over the years. “WIB truly has an impact on our success because we are blended with women at all stages of their careers,” she said. “Networking is more important than you think it is.” As the Programs Chair, Margaret has taken on the massive job of creating engaging events for WIB-Seattle members. One idea that she had to make networking more approachable was to create a bingo card to help people talk to others. “Make it a game to learn more about others,” she said. “You're scientists! You’re always wanting to learn more.” Margaret also participated in an eMAPS group for a year, which helped her to adjust to her role as Director of Commercial Education at NanoString. “The coach from EWIB was fantastic. I actually talked NanoString into hiring her as a coach for me for another year!” Margaret said. “She was really essential. This position was created for me, and she helped me to organize my thoughts to be really effective.”

Margaret credited her experiences with the MAPS and eMAPS groups as particularly helpful when she found herself being asked to take on more responsibility at work. “Many of us are scientists that are not trained to become people managers fast enough or early enough,” she said. “The challenge is to continue to redefine yourself in your career.” One of Margaret’s biggest takeaways from the eMAPS program was a comment that her coach made after she saw layoffs at her company. “The kindest thing that hit me the most, after layoffs at work, was when my coach said, ‘It means a lot that you're still there. You've led your team to where they've needed to go,’” she recalled. “It was empowering to me. It encouraged me to find a bigger voice here.” In addition to finding a bigger voice, Margaret also found a sense of balance in her career mindset. “I’ve thought to myself, ‘Even if it falls apart, I want to take it on. This is what I need to do right now to practice for my next role,’” she said. “People get so stuck in ‘This is me, this is what I do,’ and that's never been me. I've always wondered what I can do to keep learning.”

WIB-Seattle thanks Margaret for all of the work that she has done so far, planning and executing fantastic events for our members! Her leadership, organizational skills, and determination have all helped us have an amazing calendar full of compelling speakers, unique topics, and approachable networking opportunities.

Submitted by Mariana Huben

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