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Unlocking Potential: How Leading with Heart Drives Our Accessioning Team

Christin Sullivan

In her five years at Foundation Medicine, Accessioning Supervisor Bianca Justafort has excelled in her roles, driven by a genuine love for helping others. This compassion is equally evident in her dedication to patients as it is in her impact on those around her. She graciously advocates for every member of her team, raising them up with her as she grows. Bianca’s earnest pursuit of personal and professional development makes her a role model for women of color in STEM and all future leaders of the company. Her career journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the impact of leading with heart.

Before finding a second home in the lab, Bianca worked as a clinical nursing assistant (CNA) for 12 years with the dream of one day becoming a nurse. However, her career path took an unexpected turn after a severe car accident. She searched for a way to continue her passion for patient care without the physical demands of bedside care, leading to her first lab role. This was a big change — but Bianca’s compassionate approach to her work remained the same. Although she couldn’t see the faces of the individuals she was helping in her new role, handling every sample with careful attention gave her just as much joy as when she would brighten a patient’s day at bedside. As a CNA, Bianca remembers telling patients that their samples were in good hands in the lab and the teams were doing everything they could to get their results back quickly. Since transitioning to the other side of patient care and taking this responsibility on herself, Bianca ensures every sample is handled with the utmost care, always keeping the patients in mind. She has seen first-hand the impact her work has on patients, and that’s exactly what fuels her.

 

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Bianca found that her skills and heartfelt approach aligned perfectly with Foundation Medicine’s mission to transform cancer care. Since joining the company five years ago, she has been promoted from Accessioning Tech II to Accessioning Lead, and now holds a pivotal role as an Accessioning Supervisor. She started her journey in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, and relocated to our San Diego headquarters in 2022, where she has continued to flourish. Bianca aims to show up as her best self everyday, maintaining an openness to the unexpected and tackling every challenge with grace. Her strong communication and collaboration skills are instrumental in driving innovation within her team, fostering a culture of curiosity and continuous improvement. Resilient and dedicated — she is a key contributor to her team’s ongoing success.  

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Extending her impact far beyond the lab, Bianca became closely involved with our employee resource network (ERN), UPLIFT, after attending its opening event in Boston in 2019. UPLIFT, which stand for “Unleashing the Potential Leadership and Impact of Female Talent,” has a clear vision: to empower women with the resources and opportunities to achieve success on their own terms. After the opening event, she returned to RTP inspired and determined to unleash her own potential, eventually becoming a co-chair of the ERN. A fire sparked within her; she signed up for a course on how to negotiate for yourself — the first of many strides she made in personal development. Bianca cherished these opportunities, grateful that Foundation Medicine invests in the growth of their employees, not just in science, but for their own well-being. Bianca nurtures a community of belonging and empowerment by organizing educational sessions and curating events that give members the opportunity to connect and learn from each other. This passion for bettering herself while advocating for others illustrates Bianca’s strong leadership, setting the stage for her impactful role as a people manager at Foundation Medicine.  

 

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Bianca’s skill for leading people is another trait that stems from her genuine care for others. She expertly manages women and men of diverse backgrounds — a task she takes on with pride for working at a diverse company. A key tool in Bianca’s management approach is the Enneagram personality test, offering insights used to deeply understand and address the unique needs of every member of her team. She values the test as an unbiased resource that enables her to tailor her leadership to everyone carefully and effectively. In addition to connecting with every member of her team individually, Bianca inspires the whole group by bringing a positive energy to the workplace. Along with her innately bright spirit, her positive energy is charged by her early experiences at the company. She has noticed the impact of successful women in leadership and has experienced caring managers that made her feel truly seen, like Jami DeBrango-Palumbo and Tiara Pitt. She followed in the footsteps of these exemplary leaders who reinforced her belief in her own potential for success. She strives to offer the same attentive and energizing leadership that has helped her, making her an effective and beloved people manager. 

Bianca’s story is one of personal and professional growth. As a woman of color of Haitian descent, excelling so quickly didn’t always seem possible to her. Before Foundation Medicine, she hadn’t experienced opportunities to grow and develop, or seen examples of women rising in the ranks at her previous roles. Now that she has done it herself, she’s a strong advocate for her colleagues and empowers them to pursue their goals with the same passion and determination. Her ability to overcome adversity and channel her energy into career triumphs makes her an exceptional role model, paving the way for future leaders at Foundation Medicine. 

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