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Julie Cameron
November 9, 2023

Julie Cameron: 2023 Distinguished Achievement Award recipient

Written By: Staff


Julie Cameron
BSChE ’86
CEO, Excel Scientific Inc.; CEO, Innovize

Julie is a chemical engineer and executive who built and managed myriad product categories with complex chemistries and developed new opportunities for those products across a global marketplace.

How did your experience in the College of Engineering influence your career path?

When I was in my junior year, I was wondering what I was going to do with a degree in chemical engineering. I didn’t want to work in a chemical factory. I took a one- credit course where people with engineering degrees spoke about their jobs; there was a business person, a patent attorney, and others. One speaker was a gentleman by the name of Bill Becker, a graduate who had gone to work as a salesperson for Dow Corning. After class, I went up to him and said, “I want your job.” I interviewed, went through a selection process, and that was the job I got out of school.

How did your engineering education enable your success?

As an engineer, you’re a problem-solver, and you apply that to different problems throughout your career, whether they be technical issues or business problems. Having a chemical engineering degree from the University of Wisconsin gave me tremendous credibility, especially early in my career.

What course had the greatest impact on you?

I entered my senior year having never written a paper. I felt I needed to learn how to write as part of my education so I took a technical writing class. It taught us to subtract all the unnecessary words, to think of how to make the language more interesting, and to use the right graphs and visuals for the audience. I use what I learned in that elective more often than anything else from my degree.

Give us a few highlights of your professional career.

There are big moments like being on the floor of the stock exchange when Avantor had its IPO, and more recently, acquiring Innovize. To acquire Innovize we had to get the economic piece of the proposal and also the story right, the alignment on strategy, and the fit with our culture. I am proud we were able to agree on all aspects. I’ve negotiated some really big deals that are still in place today. In one, I really drew on my chemical engineering degree, creating a balanced agreement that created security of supply for the customer, and security of demand for a major investment in capital. Finally, the relationships that I’ve built over the years, learning from others, developing teams and coaching people, are what’s important. That’s the best legacy: I had good leaders and coaches, and while I try to coach and lead others, I continue to learn from my colleagues and teams.

Describe the impacts you’ve had on society as a result of your contributions.

When I was first in sales, I worked in a lot of aerospace defense, selling electrical and electronics, then automotive electronics. I went from there into the medical field, and was selling materials used in long-term implantable components for life-saving devices or life-enhancing devices. From when I left Dow Corning and went to Vesta (which became Lubrizol), then to NuSil/ Avantor, Excel Scientific and now Innovize, I stayed in that thread of doing something that’s creating innovative life-saving or life- enhancing devices, drugs or diagnostics. It makes you feel good every day knowing that what you are doing is helping others’ health.

What do you like best?

Sweet Caroline or Jump Around?
Oh, man. I lived on the East Coast and Sweet Caroline is popular at “the shore” there too, so Sweet Caroline.

State Street or the Lakeshore Path?
State Street.

The Arboretum or Picnic Point?
Picnic Point.

Flamingos or Badgers?
I’m from the era of flamingos. I wasn’t there when they were on Bascom Hill but it was still a thing.

Orange custard chocolate chip or anything else?
There’s that other ice cream shop, the Chocolate Shoppe. And the flavor that’s like Almond Joy … that’s my fave!