One-on-One with Christine Humphries

Christine Humphries

Christine Humphries was first introduced to the collective pride and research excellence that permeates the atmosphere at UBC during her time as an undergraduate student studying medical genetics.

After graduation, she went on to complete a doctorate in molecular and medical genetics at the University of Toronto. She then returned to British Columbia to start her career, first as a project management consultant in Nelson, B.C., then in research administration and project management at the University of Victoria, and most recently, at UBC Okanagan where she focused on research facilitation, internal funding programs and strategic initiatives for nine years.

Now as the Director, Strategic Initiatives Management and Evaluation in the Faculty of Medicine, Christine is helping to ensure the Faculty is accomplishing the ambitious commitments in its strategic plan.

Who inspires you and why?

As a whole, faculty members and staff at UBC inspire me. Collectively, they form an incredibly hardworking group of people who are making a difference in the world. Every time I work with faculty members, I’m struck by their dedication to learners and their academic mission. Similarly, working with staff reveals their impressive expertise and dedication to serving the university community. Their passion and dedication to making a difference serve as a constant inspiration for me to do my best work and to contribute meaningfully every day.

For you, what makes UBC different?

UBC has a sense of place that I’ve never felt elsewhere. This sense of place is a deep reflection of the geographic locations of its campuses on unceded territories, but also permeates in the culture, community engagement and sense of belonging and identity among students, staff and faculty. I started working at UBC Okanagan where there is a deep understanding of how UBC is making an impact, particularly in the Interior region. I feel it here at UBC Vancouver as well, and at the Faculty’s distributed sites across all corners of the province.

UBC and the Faculty of Medicine are committed to having an impact, at the local, provincial, national and international levels. People are very engaged, very committed and proud of being part of UBC and feel that we’re all collectively making a difference.

Best piece of advice:

Over my career, I’ve benefited from some great mentors and colleagues. The most invaluable piece of advice I’ve received and tried to apply consistently is to assume the best in people. In the whirlwind of stressful situations, it’s easy to lose sight of granting people the benefit of the doubt. I have tried to approach these moments with a positive mindset which, in my experience, has often led to more constructive and harmonious outcomes.

Taking this advice has been formative in making me a better colleague and a more empathetic and understanding team player. I’m incredibly grateful for this invaluable advice as it has shaped my professional outlook and also enriched my personal growth in positive ways.

What are your main goals or aspirations?

At work, one of my goals is to elevate my team’s recognition as an exceptional and valuable group to work with. My team is made up of project managers and an evaluation specialist and they all embody intelligence, passion and an unwavering commitment to their work. Through our collective efforts, we’re moving projects forward that are allowing the Faculty of Medicine to advance the goals and vision of our strategic plan.

It’s been really exciting to see what’s happening across the Faculty, to participate in these projects and to see some early outcomes. There are still two and a half more years in the current five-year strategic plan — what I’d really like to see at the end is that we’ve taken a big leap forward in some of the ambitious initiatives the Faculty of Medicine has committed to achieving.

On a personal level, I aspire to continuously evolve as a leader, empowering and inspiring others through mentorship, coaching, and collaborative teamwork. I am excited to take part in the Faculty of Medicine’s new Staff Mentorship Program as a mentor. I am particularly committed to advancing women in leadership roles. Looking back on my career, I’ve been deeply inspired by the influential women who have shaped my career, and I hope to pass on these leadership skills to other women.

First job:

My current love of coffee is based entirely on my first jobs. I worked in coffee shops when I was an undergraduate student at UBC, and my first job was at Starbucks near the hospital on Heather Street and 10th Avenue. I also worked at the Blue Chip Cafe in UBC’s old Student Union Building back when it was just a small, dark counter — but the cookies smelled incredible!

Secret talent:

I really like playing the piano and singing — that’s often how I recharge. It’s something I’ve done my whole life and I’m pretty good, but I am way too shy to play in public. That said, I just discovered that there is a beautiful grand piano in the basement of the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health. I may have to overcome my shyness and sit down at that piano, but I’ll likely wait until the building is nice and quiet.

How do you like to recharge?

I’m a bit of a ‘nester’ so I love to read, listen to music and, in the winter, I tend to sit on the couch and pull out my knitting needles.

Favourite spot in B.C.

I love being by the water. There are places along Okanagan Lake that are so spectacularly beautiful looking across mountains, vineyards, water and sun.

Published: January 2024