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Meet Your Leaders

Leadership is Much More Than a Title

  • January 12, 2024

“When I first started [at Medpace], I don’t believe I could even call myself a professional with a straight face,” Vice President, Data Sciences, Courtney Busemeyer muses. Beginning her career 21 years ago with Medpace, Courtney’s career goals and ambitions around leadership underwent professional development and personal introspection.

Finding your way

With a background in mathematics, Courtney felt a natural pull towards numbers and data. This inevitably guided her towards Medpace where she joined on as a Data Coordinator after college. During her first year at Medpace, Courtney had developed a desire to teach math, so she returned to the classroom to complete her Master’s in Education. Equipped with a new diploma, Courtney was ready to make the switch into teaching. However, around this same time, she had been offered a manager role in her department which caused her to pause. Intrigued by the opportunity, Courtney accepted the position and became a Data Manager.

In the beginning of her transition into management, Courtney was excited for her future and looked forward to where this path may take her, but she realized she was walking into some unknowns. Answering questions and being a perfect role model were at the top of her list of concerns and felt out of reach. However, after she’d spent some time as a manager – working through the day-to-day and understanding her new relationship with her colleagues – Courtney realized that her role had “quite a lot of parallels to the teaching career.” This helped to demystify what being a manager really meant, and she discovered that taking up the mantle as a leader in her department satisfied her desire to teach. Courtney took this realization and directed some of her energy towards her dream of helping others learn. “I hope to never miss an opportunity to help any member of our team gain knowledge and strength,” Courtney remarks. Providing encouragement to her team as they work through their own methods of problem solving began her journey towards true leadership.  

Quieting the noise

Courtney now reflects back on her early days as a Data Manager with much more grace than she had for herself at that time. “I think I went through a phase where I took myself, and my career, a bit too seriously and I was striving for perfection which was a bit debilitating,” she recalls. As time went on, she realized that perfection is not her goal and instead she should consider what she might learn from being ‘imperfect.’ Part of embracing her new role included unknown answers to questions, and Courtney says to “be honest if you do not know the answer.” She explains that feelings of anxiety or uncertainty during a pivotal transitional moment plague many new managers, especially when trying to get everything right and avoid any mistakes, but it’s how managers learn from these obstacles that elevates not only their team but themselves.

A few years later, Courtney moved up to Associate Director, Data Management. In preparation for a new shift, Courtney looked back on the elements that allowed her a successful progression into manager; what to bring along and what to leave behind as she began a new settling in. Even though she encountered many similarities between the two role changes, Courtney found that with an increase in responsibility as an Associate Director came something more intimidating: a fear of failure that was neither anticipated nor welcomed. Courtney explains that, as a Director, making decisions like promotions can lead to disappointment or frustration among associates. She also worried that her recent promotion might cause strife within her own department. This led Courtney to questions like What if they don’t trust me as their leader? or What if I fall through on improving our department? Once she developed her new routine, however, these thoughts quickly dissolved and she realized that doling out respect and support to her team allows for positive, easy transitions for everyone.

“Leadership was earlier mistaken to be something that comes with a title. It was perhaps sometimes minimized to being simply a part of the rote tasks of performing evaluations and approving documents, but it has grown to be so much more to me.”

Throughout the next nine years, Courtney moved up through various director levels, and she now sits as Vice President of Data Sciences, marking her total tenure at just over 20 years. With experience comes wisdom, and Courtney brought along a vault of it to her new role. She reports that she felt prepared to work through whatever came along during her most recent transition to Vice President. As someone who has had a hand in many of the roles within Data Sciences, Courtney is equipped to mentor her team based on her experiences in similar situations. She brings empathy to each case because, having been in their shoes, she can capture a genuine glimpse into what they might be going through, which ultimately allows her to provide personalized guidance.

“Watching the employees in the department succeed and grow into the next stages of their career is what continues to motivate me,” she shares. With a tenure like Courtney’s, some may find it difficult to find a reliable energizer. For Courtney, she has found that her original desire to teach planted the seed which sprouted into her current career, and Courtney uses the core elements of teaching to demonstrate true leadership.

Just crossing her three-year achievement as Vice President, Data Sciences, Courtney reflects back on her journey. “I’m settled in a wiser state,” she says. With an array of different leadership roles in her repertoire, Courtney’s definition of leadership is not a catch-all, one word fix. It’s about holistic leadership. She explains that true leadership is about having poise through a difficult time. It’s about having flexibility and setting good examples and encouraging others to believe in themselves. Leadership is not, Courtney warns, about a title or about dictating. She conducts her team through support, through leadership. Courtney has evolved into a prominent leader in her industry, though an industry different from her original plan, and she is not only recognized as an esteemed professional by others but she now views herself as one, too.

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Data Sciences