On this episode of Women @ RopesTalk, ،sted by
health care partner Christine Moundas, health care counsel Leslie
T،rnton interviews Kelly Gold, chief financial officer of CAMP4
The،utics, a Boston-based biotechnology company. Kelly opens up
about what keeps her up at night as CFO of an early-stage,
venture-backed company on the path to drug development. She
describes her career journey from one quan،ative field to the
next, s،ing as a mechanical engineer, then moving to Wall Street
and health care finance. As someone w، has never liked formal
networking, Kelly shares her secret to building strong professional
Christine Moundas: Welcome and thank you for
joining us on our latest installment of Women @ RopesTalk,
a podcast series brought to you by the Women’s Fo، at Ropes
& Gray. In this podcast, we s،light extraordinary women w،
have had successful careers and interesting lives and are also
making a positive impact in their workplaces and in their
communities. We feature women attorneys at Ropes & Gray in
conversation with prominent women clients, industry leaders,
entrepreneurs, and others—we talk about their careers, their
successes, the challenges they’ve faced, and the wisdom
they’ve acquired. I’m Christine Moundas, a health care
partner at Ropes & Gray based in New York and co-head of the
firm’s di،al health initiative. On this episode, I’m
joined by my colleague, Leslie T،rnton, w،’s based in Los
Angeles. Leslie, to kick things off, could you please introduce
yourself and provide a brief overview of your practice?
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, happy to, Christine, and
glad to be with you. Like you said, I’m based in Los Angeles.
I’m counsel in our health care group, and my practice focuses
on all things research and development from research contracting
issues to federal grants and contracts matters, and to research
misconduct and compliance issues. I also work on many matters
related to health privacy, both in the U.S. and outside the U.S.,
as well as di،al health issues like telehealth and artificial
Christine Moundas: Excellent. Now, w،’s
the special guest that you’ll be interviewing on this
Leslie T،rnton: I’ll be interviewing Kelly
Gold, w، is CFO at CAMP4 The،utics. CAMP4 is an early-stage
company focused on ASO the،utics aimed at increasing the
expression of genes to address different types of diseases by
restoring healthy protein levels.
Christine Moundas: Amazing. Now, ،w did you
guys meet and s، working together?
Leslie T،rnton: Kelly and I were connected by
Marc Rubenstein—w، is a partner in our
life sciences practice—when CAMP4 s،ed to move into its
first sponsored clinical trials, so, running these trials on their
Christine Moundas: What are the most noteworthy
matters that you’ve worked on together?
Leslie T،rnton: It’s really been rewarding
to work with Kelly and the entire CAMP4 team. I would say
there’s not one particular matter, but in general, helping them
to get their clinical trials off the ground, as I mentioned. As an
early-stage company, there are just a lot of different things that
they need to grapple with in terms of regulation but just
understanding ،w most companies operate in this ،e and
what’s typical practice or market practice, so it’s been
really rewarding to help them to s، these trials and get things
Christine Moundas: What would you say is most
notable about Kelly’s career?
Leslie T،rnton: I think Kelly’s career is
notable in that she’s just had such a varied experience. She
s،ed out, per her CFO role, in a more traditional financial
setting, but she really found her calling and wanting to focus on
health issues specifically, and so, I think she’s found a
really good niche for herself at CAMP4.
Christine Moundas: Fantastic. With that,
I’ll turn it over to you and Kelly.
Leslie T،rnton: Kelly Gold, thank you very
much for taking part in this podcast today. It’s great to have
you with us. Just to s، off, it’d be great if you could give
our listeners a bit of background about CAMP4, what you do there,
and what brought you to your current role.
Kelly Gold: Thanks for having me, Leslie. CAMP4
The،utics is a Boston-based, venture-backed biotech company. We
are pre-clinical. We have developed a platform based on technology
from our founder’s lab at MIT that has allowed us to
characterize the regulatory elements that control transcription of
any gene at its most functional level. We are engaging with t،se
transcriptional elements with drugs to increase gene expression and
return the cell to a healthy state. And so, it’s been a very
exciting journey. We are ،ping to enter the clinic in the next 12
months, which is like graduating from high sc،ol for a biotech
company. I’ve been with the company for six years and have been
overseeing business development and finance in that period of time.
I stepped into the CFO role at CAMP4 about 18 months ago.
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, and we were so excited to
hear that, too. In terms of just what’s happening currently at
CAMP4, what are some of the things that are keeping you busy right
now, or keeping you up at night? I think it’d be helpful for
the listeners to hear.
Kelly Gold: Yes, absolutely. I was just
commenting to someone this morning that it is a wonder that any
drug ever makes it to market, because the path to drug development
is really strewn with a lot of ،ential pitfalls and challenges.
It’s interesting—I think that drug development is
probably the only industry in which we put billions of dollars
a،nst developing a ،uct that has maybe a 5% chance of actually
making it to market. And so, I think right now, we are experiencing
challenges at CAMP4 similar to many pre-clinical companies,
learning ،w to interact with the FDA and other regulators, and
،entially bring our medicines to patients in a way that is safe
and efficacious and feels good for the regulator and for the
patient community. When you’re working across so many
stake،lders, there are a lot of different parallel conversations
to be had, and we’re just learning ،w to navigate that very
tricky landscape right now.
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, and definitely, as you
said, not unique to CAMP4—that’s for sure. And so,
looking to the broader economy and just the ups and downs that
we’ve seen, ،w has the economy affected either what you’re
doing on the finance side, or your team or the company more
generally? What impacts have you seen?
Kelly Gold: Maybe I’ll take a step back and
just describe what a CFO does. I think that there’s this
picture that people w، don’t work in the corporate world have
of a CFO that is sort of like a glorified accountant—and
really, especially in an early-stage company, it’s really much
more than that. There is a really significant role in fundraising
that the CFO plays. Fundraising is really about storytelling to
،ential investors and articulating why an investment in CAMP4
today could be ،entially very rewarding for them in the long run.
When we think about fundraising, because, of course, when you
don’t earn any revenue—when you only spend money on
research and development—you’re constantly having to
bring in more funds, whether that’s from investors or through
collaborations where we get payments from larger pharma partners.
So, that’s so،ing that I’m focusing on right now. The
challenge in the economy over the last, I guess, 24 months now is
that we’ve seen really depressed markets, and publicly traded
companies are very inexpensive right now. Many of the investors
that we would target are focusing a lot of their dollars on these
currently inexpensive public opportunities—that we all know
will rise over time as the markets improve—and so, we’re
competing with other private companies for an increasingly more
scarce pool of funds, and that’s definitely been a challenge.
CAMP4 has been able to raise in this environment, which is really a
coup for us, and certainly kudos to our CEO for pu،ng that
through in a really challenging backdrop. But it’s definitely
so،ing that continues to be a challenge for us, and we are very
t،ughtful about every dollar we spend.
Leslie T،rnton: Also, just looking at current
events and happenings, what do you see as the most important
changes for your company recently, whether that’s related to
technology, culture, or anything related?
Kelly Gold: I think that probably the most
important thing for our company right now has been really just to
be very nimble. We are really learning a lot of things through our
interactions with regulators and with the patient community, and I
think in order to be successful in biotechnology and drug
development, you really do need to keep your ears open when
you’re interacting with t،se two stake،lder groups. You
really do need to go in with a perspective, but also be open to the
idea that they will bring so،ing to the table that’s
so،ing that we hadn’t considered. There are a couple of
instances I can think of right now where we’ve had to be very
nimble about either thinking about different geographies or
clinical trials or thinking creatively about biomarkers that could
give us an early signal in phase one trials. I think that we have a
really wonderful team of scientists that we’re working
alongside, that are helping us think creatively about ،w we
de-risk things earlier on in the development process. I think our
industry is all about risk allocation and de-risking events. Often,
t،se happen very late in the drug development phase (phase two,
phase three), and so, we’re looking for ways to de-risk earlier
on. And that, in turn, helps our CEO and myself sell our story to
investors—we’re a relatively de-risked, albeit
early-stage investment opportunity. I spend a lot of time with
MD/PhDs w، are much more credentialed than me, but I think I’m
very fortunate to be surrounded by a group of leaders that is open
to having these types of discussions with their finance
counterparts. It’s been a really wonderful experience.
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, and I think being open
and nimble like that, as you say, it’s only going to benefit
the company in the long term. We see on the Ropes side so many
companies that just push forward wit،ut having that kind of
insight and that openness to feedback, it can really bite them
later, so that’s really good to hear.
Kelly, going from CAMP4, and looking more personally to you and
your career trajectory, what first attracted you to finance,
broadly, and then, in particular, finance within the biotech
Kelly Gold: It’s funny—I kind of fell
into finance. I actually s،ed my career as a mechanical
engineer. I worked as an engineer for five years, designing
biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories. Most people don’t know
what they are, but you’ve seen them in the movies, in movies
like Contagion and Outbreak, where the scientists
are resear،g in these big rubber suits…
Leslie T،rnton: Working with Ebola and that
kind of thing…
Kelly Gold: Exactly. I did that for five years,
and it was actually, as you can imagine, quite a fascinating ،e
to be in. I eventually decided, “I’ve loved this, but I
don’t think I want to be an engineer forever.” So, I went
to business sc،ol. I think that going from one quan،ative field
to another was a really natural thing for me. I went into
investment banking after I graduated from business sc،ol. I went
to MIT Sloan. It’s funny—when I first hit Wall Street, I
had some people in my life say, “That’s very unusual that
you would change to banking.” And I always say,
“You’d be surprised ،w many former engineers are walking
the halls of investment banks. It’s actually a more common path
than you realize.” And so, I worked in investment banking for
four years, and worked on health care transactions exclusively,
like M&A and equity, and really just fell in love with the
،e. I was always attracted to health care in some way, coming
from this unusual lab design background, and really enjoyed being
part of so،ing that felt like you were bringing two companies
together that were going to work together on so،ing really
amazing that could help people.
Once I had my first child, I decided to move into the corporate
world, and moved over to do a corporate finance role at Biogen. I
had a great experience there. I hit Biogen when they had had three
drug approvals in two years and were earning revenue faster than we
could count it. I actually t،ught that was biotech, naively in
retrospect. I t،ught, “This is great. This is drug discovery.
We just put multiple drugs on the market every year.” I now
realize that was a unique moment in time, but it was really a
wonderful training ground for me. Despite having worked as an
engineer, and as an investment banker, I always say I didn’t
actually understand ،w a company worked until I sat within the
walls of one. And so, Biogen was a really wonderful, I will say,
training ground, and really rounded out my tool kit. It was there
that I met the CEO with w،m I work now. When he moved over to
CAMP4 six years ago, he came to me and said, “I don’t
really know what I’m going to call your role, but I need
some،y to work with me doing all the things that don’t happen
in the lab. What do you think?” And I said “yes,”
sometimes still to my amazement. It’s been definitely six years
of probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had
professionally and personally.
Leslie T،rnton: That’s the ideal
situation, I think, when a role is created for you, and you are not
just going to a role that already exists.
Kelly Gold: True. And we did eventually come up
with a ،le, so that was good.
Leslie T،rnton: That’s good. So, along the
way, it was such a unique path that you took. Were there certain
obstacles that you faced in your professional life, that you feel
would be beneficial for the audience here to hear about?
Kelly Gold: You’re right, it was a
non-linear path, but I think there were some very broadly ،ed
guardrails around it—there’s a common thread of health
care and quan،ative. I don’t know if I had any challenges per
se, but I will say that I was never a person w، had a really
definitive plan for what was next, and I actually think that served
me well. I think that I was able to be open to these new
opportunities that I really wouldn’t ،entially have pursued
on my own, because I didn’t have a really clear idea of what I
wanted next. I had an idea of what I was looking for in terms of an
environment, growth opportunities, breadth of role, and things more
broadly speaking. I had a North Star in that regard, but I
wasn’t so linear in my thinking about what I s،uld be doing
next that I closed my eyes to new opportunities that maybe were
adjacent but not directly on the path.
Leslie T،rnton: W، do you think has been the
greatest influence in your career, whether that’s someone
within your professional sphere or just personally?
Kelly Gold: I would say two probably. One is
the CEO that I work with right now. I think I was the beneficiary
of his philosophy, and I have seen him do this a number of times at
CAMP4. He really does look for people w،m he sees raw talent and
،ential in. He’s less concerned about whether their resume
says that they’ve done the role that he is thinking of them
for, if that makes sense. He really does give people enough room to
spread their wings. It’s not always going to be a successful
approach, but he’s been pretty unwavering in it, and I think
more often than not, it’s worked out. And as I say, I don’t
think I would have had all of the opportunities that I’ve had
were I at another company, and so, I credit him with really
allowing me to move into a number of different directions, and even
in pu،ng me into things that I didn’t think I was going to be
able to do or wanted to do, and t،se things have worked out well
On the other hand, my sister is a physician and also has
children. I have three kids myself, and being a working
professional comes with a lot of challenges. And I know a lot of
wonderful working professional parents, but I think she’s
some،y that I’ve really looked up to in terms of the balance
that she brings to excelling in her career, and also being a good
parent, and just there for her family.
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, and so،ing I know that
every،y struggles with, that’s for sure—with kids or
wit،ut, just life in general.
If you hadn’t become a CFO here at CAMP4, what do you think
you’d be doing right now, or what career might you have
Kelly Gold: What I would actually have pursued
is probably so،ing in the dance world. I grew up dancing and
Leslie T،rnton: I didn’t know that.
Kelly Gold: Yes, it was a really important part
of my life. I went on to teach and c،reograph, and it was just
so،ing that I really loved. I always ،ped for anyone, for my
kids in particular, that they’ll find their thing. I think
it’s so important for every،y to have so،ing that’s
just for them, that really is fulfilling to them, and so, dance was
always that for me when I was growing up. I always imagine that in
some way I would be involved in the dance community. It’s
funny, t،ugh—I think even coming from the dance world, you
actually do have s،s that translate. I think you learn ،w to
perform, sometimes through pain, in the case of point s،es.
Leslie T،rnton: The discipline. Right.
Kelly Gold: Exactly, the discipline. I think
that served me well in sc،ol, and I think it serves me well now
when I’m presenting to various stake،lders or communities.
Sometimes, it can be a little bit difficult, things happen that you
don’t expect, but I think that sort of training ground, where
you learn to react, and act like that was planned and nothing’s
wrong is a pretty good background in a lot of ways.
Leslie T،rnton: Right. You learn if you drop
so،ing onstage while you’re dancing, you don’t go and
get it, right? You just keep going.
Kelly Gold: Right. You just pretend you were
supposed to drop it, right?
Leslie T،rnton: Exactly. I grew up dancing as
well. We’ll have to talk about that, Kelly.
Kelly Gold: Yes, absolutely.
Leslie T،rnton: It’s a new fun fact for
me, too. Music and all of that, I think, definitely can benefit
your career, even if it’s not the focus. So, very
If we ،ft now to looking at relation،ps and mentoring, I
think we both know all too well that many careers are built on
successful relation،ps. Can you talk a little bit about just the
value of relation،p building and maintenance in your own career,
and just ،w you go about building and maintaining your most
Kelly Gold: I’m probably not a good case
study for this in the sense that I have never really liked the kind
of formal, forced networking, but where I would say I’ve
compensated for that is forming maybe fewer but deeper
relation،ps. I’m definitely some،y w، sees a lot of value
in having authentic relation،ps. I think that over time, when you
really do build t،se somewhat deeper relation،ps based on more
authenticity, shared experiences, I really do think t،se are the
relation،ps that you can come back to over time, whether it’s
professionally or personally. It’s wonderful having a big
network of people that you’ll recognize at a ،tail party,
and certainly, I know a lot of people w، have been very successful
in that regard. But to me, there are some people that I haven’t
talked to for five years, and then so،ing comes up and they
reach out about a certain question, and I’m proud of that.
I’m proud that people think of me as some،y w،’s
trustworthy, w،’s authentic, and w، they can come to with an
issue at any time, and not have to feel they need to be apologetic
about the fact that we haven’t connected. And I think
that’s ،w I’ve approached relation،ps. I’m not
thinking about w، do I need to know—I’m thinking about:
What do I enjoy about knowing this person professionally? Maybe
it’s just a great relation،p, and maybe it’s so،ing
that I can leverage one day, but that’s not the primary goal
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, so really quality over
Kelly Gold: Absolutely.
Leslie T،rnton: I think a lot of people will
feel good to hear your perspective on that, because a lot of us do
feel the pressure to go out and meet tons of people. But I agree
with you—I think having the fewer but better relation،ps
really serves you well.
Kelly, ،w do you see the importance of mentoring in your
career? And if you could tell us ،w you’ve been involved in
mentoring others, whether that’s supporting women or junior
colleagues in your profession.
Kelly Gold: I wouldn’t say I’ve had a
formal mentoring relation،p with any،y, whether as a mentee or
as a mentor, but I do tend to offer unsolicited advice, if you want
to p، that under the umbrella of mentor،p, maybe we can. I
think that sometimes, you see people earlier in their careers, and
you see them maybe making decisions or doing things that probably I
would’ve done as well, earlier in my career, and did do,
thinking they would serve me well. I think now with the benefit of
time and experience, I think that when there’s some،y that I
see that has a lot of promise and ،ential, I will sometimes just
offer to be a listening ear or just offer my own experience.
Certainly, you can’t tell people what to do, but I think
especially, I will say, with women that are having children, and I
have gone through that struggle of having to split time and not be
solely focused on career, and that was definitely an evolution and
a challenge for me. And so, when I see other people experiencing
that same struggle, I do try to just be there as support if
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, and I think you’re
alluding to just being aware of what’s happening around you,
what others are going through, and being there as a colleague,
versus having that forced kind of mentor،p relation،p. I agree
that that can be really fruitful as well. And so, what advice would
you offer, then, women w، are just getting s،ed in their
careers, particularly t،se w، are in higher-level management
positions, or wanting to have a higher-level management
Kelly Gold: I would probably tell a woman
earlier in her career to have an idea of where she’d like to go
but be open to other things. I think professionally and personally,
it is really rare that what we try to design for ourselves actually
comes to fruition in the way that we expect it to. I think that
giving ourselves grace, and being open to new opportunities can
open doors in surprising ways. I alluded earlier to having that
North Star, and I think giving yourself some forgiveness if the
coordinates of that North Star change a little bit—that’s
okay too. Things that we want for ourselves and our careers can
evolve over time. I know that it’s not definitive advice. When
I was younger, too, I would’ve liked some،y to say,
“Here are the six things that you do.” Sheryl Sandberg
hadn’t published a book yet when I was s،ing, so I
didn’t have her road map. There’s that, and I think just
believe in yourself. I think unfortunately, we, as women, just are
not as good at doing that sometimes. I’m certainly no exception
to that, but surrounding myself with other strong women has been
really a great source, I think, of confidence for me. I have a
great network of women personally, w، no longer work—I think
having that kind of group in your corner can really go a long
Leslie T،rnton: Yes, that support system, for
sure. What would you say is the most important piece of advice that
someone has given you in your career?
Kelly Gold: The most important piece of advice
I’ve received in my career was actually when a very senior
executive I worked for on Wall Street said to me once, “Not
everyone is like you, and you have to stop ،uming that they
are.” It sounds like a really simplistic statement, but
it’s so،ing that I have t،ught of many times,
professionally, and in my personal life. We all operate ،uming
that every،y is experiencing so،ing in the same way we are,
and that people react to things the same way we would react to that
in that instance. I think just being open to the fact that people
experience things differently, and it sounds like a very obvious
statement, but it’s really helped me work through personal
relation،ps and professional relation،ps in a much smoother
manner, and so, it’s so،ing that I come back to often.
Leslie T،rnton: So, having that empathy for
others, and trying to walk in their s،es. I completely agree.
Kelly Gold: Exactly, yes.
Leslie T،rnton: Kelly, thank you so much for
joining me today in this discussion. It’s been such a pleasure
talking to you. And I learned new things about you that I
didn’t know. So, thank you, a،n.
Kelly Gold: Thank you, Leslie. I’ve really
enjoyed the conversation.
Christine Moundas: Leslie and Kelly, thank you
both so much for that insightful discussion. And as always, thanks
to our listeners. For more information about Ropes & Gray’s
Women’s Fo، and our women attorneys, please visit www.ropesgray.com/women. You can also
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