Carve out time to really listen to your team without an agenda. One of my favorite recurring meetings on my calendar is the meeting that I have with my team with no agenda. It’s a time that we all come together, and anyone is free to bring a pressing topic, a new insight, or just talk through something they are seeing in their business that they want another perspective on.

As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite” , we had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Lambert.

Nicole Lambert, president, Myriad Genetics, joined Myriad Genetics in June 2001. Prior to her current position, she served as general manager for the Oncology, Urology and Dermatology business units. Prior to joining Myriad Genetics, she was a genetic counselor at LabCorp. Lambert received her bachelor’s degree in Biology and Sociology from Boston College, and she earned her master’s degree in genetic counseling from Mt. Sinai School of Medicine at New York University.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I started out my career as a genetic counselor seeing prenatal patients and cancer patients for pre-test and post-test counseling. Genetics interested me because I felt like it provided the biggest opportunity to practice preventive medicine. In most of medicine, you’re waiting until the patient has a disease and then doing a huge lift to try to fix that disease.

When the BRCA genes were discovered, I knew immediately that I wanted to work at Myriad Genetics. I loved the progressive, innovative nature of a company that was taking science and applying it to real patient care. My first roles at Myriad were customer-facing — first as a regional clinical expert and later as a sales representative. While I worked in sales, it never really felt like selling because I believed in the power of testing so much — I loved it.

Today, I’m responsible for our oncology and women’s health businesses. That involves everything from understanding the best way to reach patients who might be appropriate for our genetic tests to educating and supporting physicians who are ordering those tests. I also oversee day-to-day operations of the labs that run and report those results, making sure we’re delivering excellent customer service and operating at full efficiency all day, every day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

One interesting thing that happened was watching my personal and professional lives come together. When I joined Myriad, I really didn’t have a family history of breast cancer. But, over the last 20 years that I’ve worked here, my family has been affected multiple times by cancer; my mother battled breast twice and my aunt died of metastatic breast cancer. My aunt lived to the day after her youngest son graduated from high school.

I knew that I didn’t want to miss a single moment of watching my own son grow into adulthood: his graduations, his wedding, all those moments that I look forward to. In 2019, I underwent genetic testing and learned that I was at high risk for breast cancer. The risk was high enough for me to make the decision to have a prophylactic mastectomy.

With genetic testing I felt empowered: I had the time I needed to process the news of my breast cancer risk, make the right decision for me and my family and then, in my case, choose more intense screening, then, ultimately surgery, when I was ready.

All of us are shaped in various ways that help us achieve success. Is there a particular person who shaped your approach to achieving your goals?Can you share a story about that?

I have a cousin who is two years younger than me, but we grew up together going to our grandpa’s farm in Missouri during the summers. We learned a lot from my grandpa over those summers: picking berries, doing chores, running with the chickens (and if they’d come at us, he’d yell “put your hands up, kid!”), or just conversations at the dinner table. But I do have a lifelong bond with my cousin, who always keeps me grounded. If anything comes against me, a bad break in life, a competitor in business or just general fatigue, I can count on my cousin to pick me up and get me back in the game (“Put your hands up, kid!”).

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Managing yourself and your physical and mental health is such an important part of success and is not talked about enough, in my opinion. When I was in college, I pushed myself really hard and I ended up getting very sick in my sophomore year. That was when I learned that I couldn’t push my body beyond its limits and that sleep is the most important thing you can do to take care of yourself. Often when I feel myself starting to reach my limits and think, “Should I review these financial reports for another hour or get an extra hour of sleep?”, sleep is always the answer. The improvement in focus, stamina, energy and engagement is always better after proper rest. With that guiding principle, all the other choices fall in line. If I am thinking about having another glass of wine, I think, “Will I sleep better or worse if I do this?” If I am stressed and can’t fall asleep, a 10-minute meditation usually does the trick!

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equity and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

As a company, we have to reflect the diverse patients we serve if we want to truly understand them and serve them better. We’ve significantly expanded the diversity of our leadership team so we can benefit from different perspectives. “Inclusive,” alongside other attributes, is one of our values. It’s not good enough to be innovative, caring, committed and collaborative if some people feel left out of that culture.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

There is an urgent need to increase health access and reduce disparities among populations across racial, social and economic lines. Here’s one example of how we’re helping to break down disparities at Myriad Genetics:

Approximately 90–95% of women test negative for high-risk gene mutations but may have additional breast cancer risk factors that still need to be managed. However, early genetic databases were mostly from people of European descent, and when risk testing is based on genetic markers found in that ancestry, the results are less accurate for people of other ancestries. This is especially significant as Black women are twice as likely to die of the disease compared to white women, and Hispanic women who are diagnosed are 20% more likely to die of the disease compared to white women.

To get more accurate results for people of all ancestries, risk scoring had to be re-engineered to account for the frequency of different genetic markers in various populations. There’s now a more extensive database available we developed at Myriad Genetics to incorporate all ancestries.

For the first time, women of all ancestries can now receive a personalized polygenic breast cancer risk assessment with the Myriad Genetics MyRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test with RiskScore®. For women who test negative for high-risk gene mutations, but still have additional breast cancer risk factors that need to be managed, the RiskScore component of MyRisk can help them and their physicians assess those added risk factors.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

There are a lot of moving parts to my role. Often, I feel like a part-time “mechanic” tinkering with all the different levers we need to run a successful business and a part-time “navigator” in helping to look up and out to where the business needs to go next. And, of course, all of this is dependent on building and inspiring a team that can get us to the right destination: best quality for our patients, best partner for our physicians, and best place to work for our employees.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

The biggest myth is that there’s a very linear “career ladder.” I believe Sheryl Sandberg once said that it’s not a ladder, it’s a jungle gym. For me, I changed roles quite a bit to gain varied experiences. Usually, when I did this, I knew one part of the job really well, and had to stretch to learn other parts of the job. I started my career as a genetic counselor. When I joined Myriad, I knew a lot about genetics, but I had to learn a lot about business.

Over my last 20 years here, I’ve made multiple moves, learning as much as I could in every opportunity. I think sometimes it’s also about raising your hand to take on the crucible assignments, the challenging projects, and sometimes, the roles that others don’t want to do. The journey to leadership isn’t linear — embrace every challenge and take time to celebrate every accomplishment along the way.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

There’s not really a striking difference. I think the most exciting thing about my job is helping to change the way that care is delivered and ultimately change the outcomes for millions of patients. So much amazing progress has been made during my time at Myriad Genetics. When I look back at the way genetic testing was done when I was in practice 20 years ago, I can’t believe how far we’ve come.

Earlier in my career, genetic services and genetic testing were always done a certain way. My current role allows me to constantly challenge the limits of innovation to ask, “What if there were a better way?” “What if we could…?” “How could we better serve…?” There is still a lot of change that must happen, but I’m excited for what the future of genetic testing holds.

Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

I truly believe anyone can be whatever they aspire to be. I think we all want to be the best version of ourselves — whether that is an executive, a front-line healthcare worker, a great mom — anything!

Executives come in all different flavors; they come from different educational and family backgrounds, work experiences. Some of the traits that successful executives that I know have in common are a passion and drive for their company’s mission. They believe in it, they live it, they inspire others to believe in it, and that passion helps them push through the obstacles that inevitably come their way.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

Carve out time to really listen to your team without an agenda. One of my favorite recurring meetings on my calendar is the meeting that I have with my team with no agenda. It’s a time that we all come together, and anyone is free to bring a pressing topic, a new insight, or just talk through something they are seeing in their business that they want another perspective on.

Many times, that is the most productive meeting of the week because we have the time and space to put the whirlwind aside and think about what’s really important through the noise. It’s also a time when we get a lot of support from each other. Often, we’re all struggling with some of the same issues and it’s reassuring to know that you are not alone.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

As I mentioned earlier, I went through a very personal breast cancer experience of my own. Genetic testing and a risk assessment helped me make a pivotal decision for my own health. That experience drives me every day to continue to make the testing process easier for patients, and to ensure that patients have access to testing and support to understand what their test results mean for their care.

I’m telling my story in hopes that it will inspire others to have proactive conversations with their doctors about their family health history. Genetic testing can give you a precise measure of your risk and help you and your doctor make more informed decisions about how and when you manage that risk.

What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Never underestimate the power of truly listening without pre-judging the outcome. It’s amazing how much you learn and how you often get to a better solution than what you were initially thinking. Choose to show up and be fully present.
  2. Embrace curiosity. I find that most of the time, the answers lie within my team or within a few steps of my team. It’s a matter of asking the right question that helps them get it out into the room.
  3. Take time to celebrate the wins. We work so hard for so long to accomplish a goal, then often when we do, it’s on to the next one. When you’ve just climbed a mountain, take some time to enjoy the view!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

To make quality, medical grade genetic testing as accessible as a blood count, mammogram or an ultrasound. These results can help individuals take the right steps to prevent disease, gain a confident diagnosis, and receive effective, personalized treatment.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Every setback is just the set up for a comeback.” I love a great story. I always love to hear a story or tell a story where things went off course and the hero prevailed! This saying keeps me motivated to find a new way forward when obstacles come my way. I love to watch the Boston Bruins come back after being down 4 to 0; I love hearing stories from my sales teams when we find a way to solve a customer’s problem; and I love hearing the stories about how a patient got the right treatment because of one of our tests and beat their cancer.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

That’s a tough one! I would say Sheryl Sandberg. I admire the courage and vulnerability she has had to have to share so much of her personal story to help others. She truly changed the conversation about women in the workforce, but also around finding a way to be successful and take care of your mental health along the way. She is a role model in business and in life.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.