Today we shine the spotlight on Shauna Warwick, Director of Operations at dentalcorp’s Support Centre. Shauna tells us about leading a new initiative in change management, her passion for travel and cycle touring, and the importance of being an advocate for your own health.
Tell me about your background – how long have you been with dentalcorp, and what were you doing before you joined?
This October will be my fourth anniversary with dentalcorp. Growing up, I was always interested in health sciences and toyed with the idea of dentistry before deciding to complete an undergrad specializing in Pharmacology. While that endeavour highlighted that research and development was not my passion, it enabled me to get my foot in the door with an organization that would help me discover an interest in operations, process improvement, and change management.
Early in my career I joined an organization that was starting its Lean/Six Sigma journey. I earned my certification as a Six Sigma Black Belt, which allowed me to hone my skillset in leading cross-functional teams through strategic projects across multiple functional areas and industries, including pharma, food manufacturing, and health care. I still teach Lean Six Sigma on weekends at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) – it helps me stay sharp!
Before joining dentalcorp, I led an Organizational Development team for a health care organization that focused on supporting teams with engagement, leadership development, and organizational change management. While I enjoyed the work and had a fantastic team, I missed the day-to-day excitement and knew I wanted to get back to my operations roots. dentalcorp has been a perfect fit!
Can you tell me a bit about your role on your team? What does a typical day look like?
I am currently seconded, leading Change Management for an upcoming new technology implementation. I am very excited to be introducing the organization to formal change management for such an important initiative. When approached to take this on, I didn't hesitate. At this point in the project, my day consists of working with our team leads and external technology counterparts to understand the upcoming changes and how they will impact different stakeholder groups.
While I am excited to be part of this initiative, I miss the day-to-day variety of being a Director of Operations. There is no typical day for us. We work very closely with our partners, practice managers, Human Resources Business Partner’s (HRBP), and practice teams to ensure they have the support they need to be successful. I pride myself on seeing my teams grow and succeed in their respective roles. Each day presents a new challenge or opportunity, for which my colleagues and I need to be ready.
Tell me something funny that's happened to you
Outside of work, I am an avid traveller and I used to do a lot of cycle touring. I have cycled on five continents! On my first cycle tour, my partner and I cycled from Beijing to Shanghai. On our first day of biking, about 50 km south of Beijing, we stopped at a small town. From the side of the road, we could see two groups practicing a dragon dance, and a very colourful fan dance. Suddenly, while taking photos, a group of people were motioning for us to come into a building. A woman came running towards us and explained that there was a new restaurant's grand opening, and that they were honoured we were there. It was a celebration with locals and dignitaries from across the province. We were seated at the head table, treated to a 12-course lunch, acrobats, and other entertainment. Just when I thought the experience was ending, I was ushered to the stage, in full-on bike gear, and handed a karaoke list and microphone. The only available songs in English were from Celine Dion. So, there I was, somewhere in China, belting out Power of Love to a restaurant full of locals and dignitaries, who in turn gave me a bouquet of gerbera daisies. It was quite the spectacle!
Tell me about an experience you've had that's really left an impact
In 2013, my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and my younger sister with breast cancer within two weeks. We later found out that it was hereditary, and that potentially my two other sisters and I were also at risk. Over the next five years, I watched my mom, and two sisters fight through treatment and preventative surgeries. My sister won her battle, but unfortunately, our mother lost hers in 2018, just before I joined dentalcorp. My mother was one of the strongest, most resilient people I have ever known. Losing her was one of the most difficult things I experienced. It taught me that you need to live in the moment, first and foremost. Never put off doing something, as you may not get the chance. It taught me to be an advocate for your own health. While things are slowly improving in hereditary cancer, there is not much support for individuals and families that carry this unwelcome inheritance. This experience motivated my sister and me to become advocates to increase support and funding for the high-risk clinic in Edmonton. I sat as a board member for the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Society until 2016.
Tell me something about yourself that your co-workers would never guess?
I was a huge Edmonton Oiler fan when I was young, and goaltender Grant Fuhr was my idol. My mom tried hard to put me in sports like gymnastics or dance, but the only thing I wanted was to be a goalie like Grant Fuhr. Finally, when I was 5, she signed me up for Ringette, as back in the day, there were no female hockey teams. I remember my first game vividly. I was mad at the coach because he made me play forward. Right after that game, I told him I just wanted to be a goalie, and the rest is history. I played competitive ringette and hockey as a goaltender for over 30 years, playing against some former Olympians and retiring only because of a hip injury. My operations co-workers call me Hextall after famed NHL goaltender Ron Hextall.
What are your aspirations for personal and professional growth? Do you have a 5-year plan?
I no longer have a five-year plan, thanks to COVID, though I do have a development plan. Professionally, my focus is continuing to learn more about the dental industry and how I can utilize my skills to contribute to the success of our partners and dentalcorp as an organization. Personally, aside from continuing to travel (now that travel restrictions are easing), I would love to devote more time to hobbies such as drawing, painting, and even refreshing my skills in piano again.
What advice do you have for new team members joining dentalcorp's Support Centre?
dentalcorp is a young company with a lot of opportunities. Don't be afraid to make connections in other departments and understand how each role fits into supporting our network. Most importantly, reach out to the operations team and connect with our partners and practice managers. Spending time in a dental practice is probably one of the most impactful things you can do to understand what they need to be successful and how you can support them.