BIV is proud to recognize Sherry Aulin, CFO of Xenon Pharmaceuticals, and 39 exceptional business leaders with 2022 Forty under 40 Awards.
Each recipient is featured in BIV's annual Forty under 40 Magazine, and will be celebrated at an awards gala Feb. 22. Profiles of each award recipient – originally published in the magazine – will be available at biv.com in the days ahead.
Who or what is responsible for your work ethic?
Definitely my mother – I watched her tackle the hardships of life as an immigrant and single parent for many years. I dealt with a fair amount of adversity growing up and found a great deal of motivation in those early challenges.
What drives you?
Achieving goals despite the odds. I am passionate about the work we do at Xenon – developing innovative medicines to address areas of high unmet medical need. Biotech is a tough business and there are more failures than successes.
A favourite book you would recommend?
Currently reading “Indian” in the Cabinet: Speaking Truth to Power by Jody Wilson-Raybould.
Now that you are (or are close to) entering your 40s, what goals have you set for yourself?
Be more present in my day-to-day. Travel more. Have more fun.
What was your childhood career dream?
To be a chef. As a child, I watched cooking shows on TV instead of cartoons – The Urban Peasant and The French Chef. I would cook with my mom and pretend I was hosting my own show.
What was your toughest business or professional decision?
Xenon’s IPO was completed two weeks after my daughter was born. I was back at the office when she was seven months old. The decision to leave her and my toddler with a nanny was extremely hard.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Slow down and enjoy the process – it’s not about the destination, but how you get there.
What is your best habit?
Early morning pilates and spin.
Tell us one improbable fact about yourself.
I have an artistic side – I grew up drawing and painting.
Best piece of advice ever received?
Find a good mentor. I am lucky to have found smart, driven and successful individuals who advocated for me and pushed me outside my comfort zone.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
It’s impossible to achieve anything on your own. You need mentors, teams, partners, investors, peers and a supportive family. Life and business are all about relationships and teamwork.
What career highlight are you most proud of?
Being one of the youngest (female) executives of a publicly listed biotech company.
What’s left to accomplish?
As an R&D company with no commercial product and revenue, we rely on investor dollars to fund our research and development activities. I want to see us get a drug across the finish line to patients. That goal is finally in sight.