Bachelor of Arts, English and Political Science, 1994
Just go for it. Take the risks.
Joanna Carroll has some advice for graduating King’s students. “Just go for it,” she says. “Take the risks. It’ll open up to things you’d never know.”
It’s a philosophy that has taken Joanna from the King’s quad to law school, to a private practice and now to the role of Chief Operating Officer of the digital health company Think Research.
Joanna grew up knowing she wanted to be a lawyer. It was her father’s chosen profession and she was in awe of, as she says, “the continued intellectual pursuit”.
“You have to be born with a propensity for intellectual curiosity, but you don’t go into law school without real training and intellectual rigours. You need to learn to cut through large volumes of dense material and get to the heart of the issue, to get to what matters. That’s the nurture part of nature/nurture.”
Joanna found the nurturing at King’s.
“It’s what I gained during the Foundation Year Program (FYP) and then the rest of my experience at King’s—learning how to think critically and analyze.”
Coming out of King’s Joanna took the risk of going to a small law school rather than a big one close to home. The University of Calgary was a great fit.
“The law school is small, and, like King’s, there were large lectures and then we’d go into small tutorial groups. We’d learn what the law is and then we’d be able to debate what the law ought to be. It is like what we did in FYP. It was just a natural extension to go to Calgary Law School.”
King’s and the University of Calgary have an agreement that pre-admits King’s students into law even before graduation, as long as they keep their marks up. Joanna attended before that agreement came into effect, but she has trumpeted the program far and wide.
After law school Joanna worked for a couple of firms developing an expertise first in commercial litigation, then employment law. The latter led her to working with healthcare facilities. Then came the next big risk.
“After the birth of my first child I decided to go out on my own. I had developed very good relationships with my clients, so I started at my dining room table, working while the baby slept.”
Joanna says her clients were very understanding and she laughs when she remembers going through her first Law Society audit while she breast fed her infant daughter.
It wasn’t long before she would take the next big risk. A close friend asked her to work for a start-up company—Think Research. She passed her law practice on to her lawyer husband and off she went, taking on the roles of Chief Talent Officer, Chief Privacy Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate and Legal Affairs.
“Everyone was doing everything!” she laughs.
Think Research grew—22 people when they got their first office space—and now boasting a workforce of almost 250 people with clients across Canada, Ireland and the Middle East. Think Research is a company that helps health care workers make the best decisions possible in patient care.
“We deliver evidence-based best practice to clinicians at the point of care through a variety of products … It is decision support for clinicians.”
For Joanna it has been about “just going for it” when an opportunity presented itself. But it is also about the way the journey started.
“King’s is still so close to my heart. It is the foundation of my intellectual, academic and professional career. It was a perfect place to start.”
Posted: January 2020