Women in Leadership: Barriers & Opportunities in the Life Science Industry

Podcast, Videos


In this episode of Impetus Digital‘s Fireside Chat, I sat down with Allison Gaw, Executive Director, Corporate and Business Development at Chinook Therapeutics, for a thought-provoking discussion around effective leadership, how to get more women in life science leadership positions, cross-border collaboration during COVID-19, the future of healthcare, and much more.

Here is a sneak peek of our conversation:

Q: What have you noticed as being some of the similarities and major differences in the way things function between the US and Canada?

A: I think the similarity, ultimately, is that everybody involved in this industry, from the scientists to the financing business people, to the regulatory folks, everybody’s desire is to do the right thing for patients. It is to make progress and really alleviate the suffering of patients, whether or not that’s curing diseases or even preventing them from occurring in the first place. I think that that is a similarity I do see, where everybody is coming from.

The differences have to do a little bit more with how you see the real ultimate goal and in terms of seeing it as a societal goal versus an individual patient goal. I think some of the stereotypes about Canadians versus Americans are true. I think what I’ve seen here in Canada is that things do tend to work at a much slower, calmer pace in that regard. It’s a kinder and gentler system and folks are not as aggressive necessarily, but I think part of that is there’s also just inherent trust in Canada.

When I moved up here I knew nobody in the industry, and I reached out to Life Sciences BC here in Vancouver. They were a great association that I know that Impetus has recently joined as well. They were great at making facilitation and introductions to people that I wanted to meet. Every single person I met was willing to make an introduction to somebody else. The trust is there once you have that connection, and I think that that is something that is slower and harder to build in the US.

One of the best terms that I’ve heard recently is “Assume good intentions”. Here in Canada, I think most relationships and most interactions inherently have good intentions underneath them. I think in the US, folks have to be reminded of it. People always think, “Oh, is the other person trying to get one up on me?” They are much more competitive in that sense. Like I said, some of the stereotypes do exist, but you can’t apply them to everybody. There are individuals in each country that operate differently…

For more of our discussion, you can watch the whole Fireside Chat with Allison Gaw, or listen to the podcast version, below.

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About Impetus Digital

Impetus Digital is the spark behind sustained healthcare stakeholder communication, collaboration, education, and insight synthesis. Our best-in-class technology and professional services ensure that life science organizations around the world can easily and cost-effectively grow and prosper—from brand or idea discovery to development, commercialization, execution, and beyond—in collaboration with colleagues, customers, healthcare providers, payers, and patients.