Amanda Daley is Vice President, Medical at Canopy Growth Corporation, the parent company of several licensed producers of medical cannabis. While she claims her friends would have voted her ‘Least Likely to be Working in the Cannabis Industry’ back in 2014, when the opportunity to help drive one of the newest and most controversial medical industries in Canada arose, her undeniable expertise in medical sales and education, honed over 15 years in pharmaceuticals, sent her name to the top of the list.

 

 


 

 

My first job ever was… Scooping ice cream at a little family-owned ice cream shop in Sydney River, Cape Breton when I was 16. The ice cream was made in-store and the owners really instilled in us the importance of delivering an outstanding customer experience. It was a fun gig for a teenager!

 

I chose my career path because… I had worked in the pharmaceutical industry for 15 years and was ready for a career change — a new challenge. Someone in the medical community reached out to me and told me about the medical cannabis industry and the evolving regulations. At first it sounded too far off the beaten path, but I explored the existing research around the use of cannabis in medicine and I saw an opportunity to bring credible, evidence-based education to the sector.

 

Leading a controversial industry feels… Exhilarating… There is never a dull day! I thrive on the controversy. It’s interesting to encounter others who have opposing views on the topic or maybe don’t know as much about it and are eager to learn more. I’m very passionate!

 

My boldest move to date was… Interviewing at Canopy for a position as a medical outreach (pharma sales) representative but then selling them on a bigger role for me. It worked!

 

I surprise people when I tell them… Where I work and what I do. It evokes chuckles from many — cab drivers, old friends, etc. So many puns and jokes about whether we have samples (sadly we don’t — but maybe check back after legalization)!

 

My best advice to someone starting their career is… To take steps to get yourself in the direction you want to grow into and to build a strong and diverse network. It’s good to have people in your professional circle who hold positions aligned with your goals and good to have people who have done well managing their own careers to lean on for advice, even if they work in fields unlike yours.

 

My best advice from a mentor was… Someone once told me that people are watching not only how we react to successes in the workplace, but also to setbacks and disappointments. When things don’t go our way it’s important to see the lesson and consider how to get back on track, and how to make the most of circumstances we didn’t choose. 

 

My biggest setback was… When I first joined the company, I had a vision for developing an accredited educational program for doctors. Accreditation signals to healthcare professionals that it’s balanced and unbiased, and since doctors are required to accumulate hours of accredited learning I knew it would be a draw. The setback was that the accrediting body decided they wouldn’t even consider programs on the topic of medical cannabis.

 

“When things don’t go our way it’s important to see the lesson and consider how to get back on track, and how to make the most of circumstances we didn’t choose”

 

I overcame it by… Deciding to go ahead and have an education program created that would meet the spirit of accreditation. Six months later when the College of Family Physicians Canada was ready to consider programs on the topic, ours was ready to go and was met with approval. Thousands of healthcare professionals across the country have attended this program, so it was worth the wait.

 

Empowering women means… It can mean many things. It’s providing them tools, opportunities and instilling confidence so their talents can shine and have the most impact. I once read that empowerment is the opposite of dependence. We (men and women) all want and deserve this personally and professionally.  

 

Work/life balance is… So important and sometimes tough to achieve when you’re working at a new company in a new industry. I do my best and it’s a work-in-progress to find the ideal balance. My husband is incredibly supportive of my career and we juggle a fair bit and by juggle I really mean he’s doing more than his share a lot of the time! 

 

If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I’m from Nova Scotia, because I’ve been in Ottawa for nearly two decades. If you spoke with me for any length of time you might figure it out by the way I pronounce certain words (bar, car, scallops, aunt). When someone asks me about myself I usually mention that I’m from the east coast. It’s an important part of who I am. There’s an inherent friendliness, a down-to-earth vibe there. I hope people see that in me!

 

I stay inspired by… Having diversity in the work I do. I have the good fortune of being exposed to and having input into so many areas of the business (product development, marketing, customer service, IT). I also stay inspired by knowing that the work we do is making a difference in people’s lives. Hearing stories every day of how medical cannabis has helped people or their loved ones is truly rewarding.

 

The future excites me because… Attitudes are changing in both the medical community and the public with more and more people seeing a role for cannabis. There is a lot of attention on the topic right now and Canada should be proud of the medical program it has built. Countries around the world are looking to Canada to see how we created a regulated system with strictly produced and tested product, and vast choice in the products that are offered. 

 

My next step is… I’m excited to see what lies ahead. There are many research efforts underway to add to the base of knowledge about the role cannabis can play in medicine. I’m sure there will be a host of cannabis-derived medicines in the future as well.

 

 

 

Meet Valerie Gerardi, another woman who’s winning in a male dominated industry.