The 2023 Women of the Year Awards: Leader – Runner-up

The runner-up of the Leader category of The 2023 Women of the Year Awards is Wendy Hurlburt, president and CEO of Life Sciences BC.

Wendy Hurlburt
President and CEO, Life Sciences BC

When Wendy Hurlburt took over the top chair at Life Sciences BC, the nonprofit that represents the life sciences industry of the province, reactions from those in her circles landed at both ends of the spectrum. “I either had people say, Wow, how obvious that you’re there, or Hmm, that’s weird, what are you doing there?” Hurlburt recalls of her 2019 appointment.

The truth might simply be that it’s hard to have a binary reaction when someone’s had such a varied career. Born in Toronto, Hurlburt earned an MBA from Queen’s University and served as the CFO for both corporate and nonprofit organizations, including the Heart & Stroke Foundation and pharmaceutical multinational Johnson & Johnson. After leaving the latter because there were no jobs for her in Canada and she was done working away from her family in places like Philadelphia and Hong Kong, she consulted for a couple of years before taking on her current role.

“This is the culmination of everything I’ve worked on—tech, medical devices, digital health, research around improving the health-care system, economic development,” Hurlburt says. “I want to see better patient outcomes and want to be part of the solution of delivering amazing benefits of health care to everyone.”

Asked how she runs her team of just under a dozen, Hurlburt doesn’t hesitate. “I’m very collaborative—I like to encourage others to experience the joy of learning,” she says. “I tend to be a forest and the trees person, which quite honestly is a good and bad thing, depending on what’s happening with the forest and the trees.”