An interview with Lisa Smith, Clinical Account Manager, North America – Indica Labs

Lisa Smith 
Clinical Account Manager, North America – Indica Labs

You have extensive experience in histology; can you share about how you got started in the field?

I never intended to be a histologist. In fact, I don’t think any histologist went into histology intentionally…we all just kind of fell into it. I wanted to be a pediatrician or an ER physician. While I was in high school, I did a tour of a local vocational school and they happened to have one of the two histology programs in the country at the time (yes, I’m dating myself). So, I said, “Why not, it will be a great fallback career if I flunk out of med school,” ha! I was accepted into the program and at that time they had partnered with a local college (Davenport University) to give college credits for the courses taken and offer a degree if the core classes were finished at their university. I jumped at the chance, and before “dual enrollment” was a thing I graduated with my Associate of Science degree at 18. I transferred to Michigan State University to continue with Pre-Med courses while working as a histologist for the University. While doing so, I obtained my EMT license to fulfill my itch for “emergency medicine.” Needless to say, I was keeping a pretty tight schedule! However, the desire to serve my country, as my uncles, grandfathers and father had done, had grown undeniable, and I quit school and enlisted in the United States Navy. I intended to enlist as a corpsman (medic), however, the Navy had other plans for me, and I became a Nuclear Electricians Mate. A far cry from the medic I had planned on being, let alone histology. When I got out of the service, I turned to what was supposed to be my “fallback” career, which has in fact become my career, and it has served me well for over 20 years now.

How did you first learn about Indica Labs and what led you to join the company in early 2022?

I first learned about Indica Labs when a recruiter reached out to me in October of 2021. Being in the clinical field in the US, digital pathology hadn’t made a much of an emergence yet. Also, I had started a role in tech support with an IHC company prior to hearing about Indica and it had me out of the lab and focused on IHC specifically, so digital pathology hadn’t been high on my radar. However, when the opportunity presented itself, I became fascinated with the company and the products Indica provided. My response to the recruiter went from being “I’m not really interested, but you can tell me what you have,” to “Wow, this is really neat, I think I’d like to hear more,” to finally, “I really want to work for this company.”

How does your role leverage your expertise in histology?

My background in histology generally comes into play with workflows. My experience with different workflows over the years helps me understand how a lab currently does things, areas they could improve, and how our products could be leveraged to help our customers run more efficiently. It also gives the lab managers a relatable person to deal with when setting up their workflows. They’re talking with someone who understands what they are dealing with and has done the job they are doing.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I have a few favorites. One, I love hearing how things have changed in a lab once HALO AP, Indica’s diagnostic digital pathology platform, has been implemented. How much easier things have gotten because the staff is no longer having to pull slides for tumor boards/ make annotations on IHC slides from manual annotations on H/E slides for analysis/ etc. Two, I love seeing how when we take back our customers’ suggestions to the team at Indica, our team takes that feedback and transforms it into this amazing product we’re able to bring back to our customers. This may seem like a line of company mush to some, but as someone who has been in the field for nearly 30 years and held positions from beginner histotech to manager to tech support to where I sit now, I can honestly say I have NEVER seen a company handle customer feedback and turn it around in a product the way Indica does. And that makes me proud to work for a company like that. And third, the people/environment. I’ve yet to meet an individual that, when I’ve reached out for help, has said “No,” or “That’s not my job” or “Figure it out on your own.” It’s always, “Sure!” or “When can you meet?” It’s been such a welcoming environment filled with welcoming people!

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Outside! My family and I (and our 3 dogs) are big into camping and overlanding. We have rigs built for off-road and off-grid terrain and love getting lost where people are few and nature is vast. There is seldom electricity and plumbing but the scenery is spectacular!

What are you looking forward to later this year?

Keeping in line with the previous question’s response, my son graduates high school this year and he wants to take an overlanding trip out west to Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, etc. We’re pretty excited to get off the beaten path and see where it takes us!

Are there any causes you support that you’d like to highlight?

Being a military family and having a husband that was deployed to a war zone on two separate occasions during our marriage, I’m a huge supporter of all things related to our men and women in uniform. Whether that’s signing cards to send overseas or collecting items for care packages or whatever else. If you’d like to get involved, just be sure to do your research beforehand and be sure that if you’re donating funds, the majority of your dollar is going to benefit the charity. A good example of this is the USO (United Service Organization https://www.uso.org/). 90 cents of every dollar you donate goes back into the charity. I saw firsthand how much the USO does for our men and women in uniform. On one deployment, they were waiting in Germany with calling cards and cell phones so service members could call home when they got off the plane. The USO has lounges at several airports for soldiers stuck on travel so they have a comfortable place to rest and relax and grab a snack–some even have microwavable food so they have some kind of hot meal–and it’s all free of charge to service members and their families. If and however you choose to help, I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart, it doesn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.