April 17, 2019

Mother-daughter team up to develop health-care leaders

Leah Wuitschik, BN’05 and Carol Gray, BN’75, talk about their important work to build leadership teams
Leah Wuitschik, BN’05 and Carol Gray, BN’75
Leah Wuitschik, BN’05 and Carol Gray, BN’75

Leah Wuitschik and her mother, Carol Gray, were featured in an issue of Faculty Links in June 2005 as mother-daughter alum. Fast forward 14 years finds the twosome working together to improve individuals and teams for a stronger health system.

Q: Leah, when we talked to you in 2005, you were on Unit 61 at Foothills. Talk a little about your career since then.

Leah: As a newly graduated nurse, I recognized immediately that I was doing important work in service of others. After completing my graduate education, I wanted to inspire leaders in health care to do things differently, to innovate and grow. As a result, I chose to step out of Alberta Health Services and, in partnership with Carol, start TallTrees Leadership. I’m so privileged to have the exciting opportunity every day to work with health-care professionals, helping them bring forth the best from themselves and their teams.

Q: Carol, when we talked to you in 2005, you were a VP with AHS (then the Calgary Health Region). Talk a little about your journey to consulting and TallTrees.

Carol: I have been most fortunate to have had a variety of senior leadership roles within AHS including a key role in leading teams responding to the H1N1 pandemic. This experience reinforced for me the immense power of common purpose, collaboration and teamwork, especially in challenging circumstances. Shortly after deciding to retire, I began consulting and my continued passion for working with leaders and teams led me to pursue training in executive coaching. The timing was right for Leah and me to work together.

Q: Why TallTrees Leadership? What is the need in nursing — and health care — today that led you to establish the business? Where did the name come from?

Carol: We all know that there are challenges in nursing and health care. We also know that there are tremendous opportunities. What is important is how we choose to respond to challenge and embrace the opportunities and do things differently. Tackling challenge and welcoming innovation is where strong and meaningful leadership becomes critical. We need to equip our leaders with the knowledge and skills to get work done and to inspire others. The name TallTrees Leadership was chosen as it is full of imagery, such as growth and change, which is directly related to leadership.

Q: What are the dynamics of the mother-daughter team? Is it more challenging or easier?

Leah: There certainly has been a learning curve for both of us; however, because we have such a close relationship we often find that there is an innate level of communication and collaboration. One of the unexpected benefits of working together is that we have developed a really good sense of our respective strengths and how to leverage those differences to better serve our clients and to create a stronger business. Q: How has the role of nurses changed since you both started out as RNs? Or has it?

Carol: We have observed that nurses are taking on ever increasing leadership roles in all areas of practice. The complexity of health-care environments reinforce that nurses are in key positions to positively influence the direction of how health care is delivered and make a significant impact on improving health outcomes for individuals and communities.

Carol and Leah, Faculty Links

Carol Gray and Leah Wuitschik