Dr Christine Newman Talks To Students About Being Your Own Leader

Leaders come in many forms and use various styles of influence. They can be ascribed to their roles or emerge through experiences within the workplace.

Students within SMLR’s Leadership in Work Organizations course were treated to an engaging discussion about leadership when Dr. Christine Newman, owner of the Harlingen Veterinary Clinic in Belle Mead, N.J., visited the class on October 22, 2012. Dr. Newman outlined the path she took before starting her practice in the historically male-dominated veterinary field.

Above: Dr. Christine Newman speaks with SMLR students about how she leads the staff in her veterinary clinic.
Above: Dr. Christine Newman answers students' questions about managing a business and motivating workers.

“I liked doing things my own way, so I started my own practice while still working at my full-time job,” says Dr. Newman, who eventually segued into solely focusing on her own facility. She worked by herself for 10 years before hiring support and managerial staff, learning how to be a manager over time.  

“When I started the clinic, I knew how to do everything on my own. Eventually, as I hired others, I learned to trust people and empower them to be in charge of others,” says Dr. Newman.

Through her experiences, Dr. Newman believes that leaders should make sure that employees find their jobs interesting and challenging. She advised students to make sure that their staff members are happy, to be mindful of those who need more attention, and to provide fair wages.

Dr. Newman, who recently received training in acupuncture for animals, believes that good leaders keep their knowledge of their profession up to date. She also believes that anyone who wants to own a business should receive formal training—something she did not receive but wishes she had done in order to avoid prior mistakes.

“I still think about going back and taking management classes. I definitely advise students to do so but to also remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to go with your gut instincts,” she says.

Samantha Collazo, a student in the course, enjoyed Dr. Newman's talk. She says, "Dr. Newman was very inspirational and humble. I love that she has done so much and admits to learning her leadership skills along the way. Actually she admits to still be learning how to be the best leader for her hospital clinic. As a part of the leader member exchange theory, it states that leadership is a process that is centered around the interactions between leaders and follower. To me, Dr. Newman is a prime example of how this theory is valid. She says that she does not treat her employees as if they are a collective group and she focuses on her relationships with each of them individually, once again validating these theories."

Leadership in Work Organizationsis taught by SMLR Dean Susan J. Schurman and Professor Rebecca Kolins Givan. The undergraduate course provides an in-depth examination of leadership—what it is, where it comes from, and how people develop and exercise it—with a focus on leadership within work organizations, including labor unions that represent workers in the workplace. For more information, visit http://smlr.rutgers.edu/labor-and-employment-relations/UGcurrent-course-schedule