Next Great Big Ideas Blog/Running Ahead of the Pack: How OBIO's Maura Campbell Made the Sprint From Bench to Boardroom

Running Ahead of the Pack: How OBIO's Maura Campbell Made the Sprint From Bench to Boardroom

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Listen in this week as Jim speaks with OBIO’s president and CEO, Maura Campbell about her journey from Queen’s University to becoming one of the key leaders of Ontario's life sciences community.

Maura Campbell is driven by her passion for biochemistry, which propelled her through undergraduate studies, grad school, working in the private sector and now helping life sciences startups achieve success.

“It's so funny. The one thing I've never wanted to be was a CEO. I always wanted to be the right-hand person to the CEO, but not the CEO...”​

As Maura explains, the journey from the classroom to the boardroom is not always linear. In this episode Jim speaks with Dr. Campbell, about her experiences from often being the only woman in the room to leading one of Canada's top life sciences organizations.


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“[I got pregnant with my first son] so I remember asking, what happens now? Going to HR ... And they're like, well, we don't know. We've never had a grad student pregnant. I was in the lab and I was working with radioactivity, so we went through all this health and safety stuff where they put a lead apron on [me], which weighed 30 pounds… talk about being the tip of the spear.”

[24:23 – 29:50] A serendipitous route from bench to boardroom.
[29:51 – 32:25] On the strength of Canadian Intellectual property laws.

“…it really comes down to the companies. They just need more funding support to stay in Canada, and they're not getting it. There's not enough investment for scaling companies. And the more investors you get, the harder it is to keep your footprint in Canada… we need to think creatively about how to change that, and how to actually convince investors that keeping the company in Canada is advantageous.”

[32:26 – 36:55] The start of Turnstone Biologics Inc.
[36:56 – 45:03] Maura Campbell on OBIO.
[45:04 – 52:24] Where Ontario sits on the global Life Sciences stage.

“I read a newspaper article ... about one of Ontario's larger public service unions investing quite a bit of money into a life sciences portfolio in the US. And the thought that went through my mind was, why aren't you doing it here?”

[52:25 – 56:10] On the circuitous path.

“When I'm asked to speak to groups about how I got here, I always put up a straight line and then a squiggle line… I had no plan, no concrete idea what I wanted to do, but I just kept an open mind. And I always thought hard about what skills did I bring that could be applied in different situations. And I think when you look at yourself this way ... you'll always have a job.”

[56:11 -57:35] Maura Campbell’s Next Great Big Idea.

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Join us as Jim Wilson speaks with leaders, innovators and disruptors in the Canadian life sciences.

​Hear about their journeys, their wins and losses, and what they have learned along the way.

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