• Article
  • December 10, 2018

Leadership Tip: Don't Pass Up a Networking Opportunity

Earlier this year, Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego launched Project Baby Bear, a landmark program that will provide whole genome sequencing (WGS) for critically ill newborns across California. Behind $2 million in funding from Medi-Cal (California's Medicaid health care program), Project Baby Bear aims to use the powerful diagnostic tool to improve outcomes for about 100 infants over the next couple of years.

But Donald Kearns says it wouldn't have come to fruition if not for a sometimes-overlooked leadership activity. "Networking is paramount," says Kearns, M.D., MMM, president and CEO of Rady Children's. "One of the challenges we have in leadership is that we get pulled in 14 different directions, but you shouldn't pass up a networking opportunity."

A chance encounter pays dividends

Kearns describes an industry event where he struck up a conversation with the woman seated next to him and began to talk about the work being done at Rady Children's Institute for Genomic Medicine. She introduced Kearns to the chief governmental officer for Illumina, a leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies. The pair hit it off, and soon they were planning a mission together; they were going to appeal to California's lawmakers for funding for Project Baby Bear. The rest is history.

"We went up to Sacramento and came back with a $2 million budget appropriation," Kearns says. "There's no way in a million years this would have happened in any other way."

Learn more about Project Baby Bear and the work at Rady Children's on WGS.

Send questions or comments to magazine@childrenshospitals.org.