Andrea Campbell: crafting a collective cannabis strategy

In January, Andrea Campbell was hired as the manager for the newly created Niagara College Cannabis Institute (NCCI), the first centre of its kind in Canada’s post-secondary system. The Institute brings together multiple cannabis initiatives in applied research, education, networking, and industry engagement in this growing sector.

In her new role, Andrea will help grow these initiatives and develop new strategies for supporting everything cannabis at the College, including supporting research and innovation and academic advancements related to cannabis. She’ll also act as a liaison with the current strategic partnerships the College has in place with various cannabis stakeholders, while cultivating new global partners.

Andrea has more than 20 years’ experience in business management in Ontario and has worked for Maple Leaf Foods in Burlington; Canada Bread in Hamilton; and Saputo Dairy in Georgetown. Most recently, she was operations manager at Canopy Growth Corp., in Niagara-on-the-Lake, for almost two years. Canopy Growth became the first cannabis company in North America to be publicly traded in 2014. While there, Andrea led the operational activities in post-production processes such as post-harvest, inventory and production scheduling, and supported quality control to ensure all Health Canada requirements were enforced. Andrea also has extensive training in change management, global transformation projects, disaster recovery and continuous improvement projects. 

Below she answers questions on NC’s cannabis journey…

Please provide a blueprint of the Niagara College Cannabis Institute (NCCI)

AC: The vision of the NCCI remains focused on advancing its strategic direction for cannabis and to support the industry’s economic advancement. Established in early 2020, the NCCI was formed to create a globally recognized teaching, training and applied research institute that serves the needs of the cannabis industry and contributes to Niagara’s economic growth.

The Institute falls under the NC Learning Enterprise Corporation (NCLEC) where we will take advantage of the similar successful model for applied learning. The model is similar to the Teaching Winery, Brewery and Distillery. They support the applied learning, so directionally, this is the same concept as these other learning enterprises.

The NCCI provides a strategic support role to help drive a coordinated effort and help strengthen all cannabis-related initiatives to ensure the College is working towards a common vision.

What are you working on at this time?

AC: Ensuring the NCCI is current on the evolving cannabis industry will be an important part of the Institute. I monitor these industry trends closely and stay current on all the challenges and opportunities. It’s essential that I have a thorough understanding of the policy behind regulations in order to develop strategies to contribute to the overall economic advancement in this sector. I’m currently supporting the academic side of retail store training, as many new cannabis stores are opening and need to have a skilled workforce.


What exciting things can the cannabis community watch for from the NCCI?

AC: To a certain degree, I will only say ‘Stay tuned!’ But I can also say we are working on a centralized NCCI web page, tentatively scheduled for a June launch; along with retail offerings, and other exciting initiatives. 


Most recently you were operations manager at Canopy Growth in NOTL, and you have extensive experience in business management. Please elaborate.

AC: My experience has been in business roles in CPG (consumer packaged goods) in the food sector where I worked at Maple Leaf Foods, Canada Bread and Saputo Dairy. In my various roles, I made a significant contribution to process improvement, cost savings and efficiencies to impact the bottom line. At Saputo, I supported the business on a global transformation project, where I was the change management lead (ERP/SAP implementation), playing a key role in ensuring the business was ready for the process and technology transformation. 


What has kept you passionate throughout your various pursuits?

AC: I have a passion for continuous improvement, people development and being action oriented. A great day at the office is when we accomplish the milestones that we set up to achieve, helping others learn and grow and ultimately make processes better.


What was it about creating the NCCI that appealed to you?

AC: Of course, the fact that such a cannabis institute is the first of its kind in Canada. Also, I appreciate the culture and values for Niagara College and the leadership align with my values. The fact that NC was the first post-secondary institution to offer a commercial cannabis academic program, demonstrated the College’s passion to be a first-mover advantage and drive to respond to economic opportunities. This opportunity was also appealing because it would allow the opportunity to work with the industry as a whole and to take my knowledge of cannabis business to the next level, to further impact the advancements in the cannabis industry outreach, education and research. 


How would your friends describe you?

AC: They would say I have a positive attitude, I’m supportive and always demonstrate leadership by supporting others in any way that I can. 


What keeps you busy in your leisure time?

AC: I have three special boys that keep me busy with hockey. They’ve also brought out a passion for outdoor adventures, like fishing, camping and kayaking.

For those in the cannabis industry wanting to reach out to Andrea, you can find her here: [email protected]