Women in Science: Kerry’s Barbara Morgan on her 'elaborate' science fair projects and innate curiosity

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Kerry Group
© Kerry Group

Related tags Kerry group Biopharmaceutical Biologics cell and gene therapy

Barbara Morgan is vice president and portfolio executive at public food company Kerry Group, heading up their global pharma and biopharma business.

Since starting at Kerry in 2021, she has grown the pharma portfolio to increase the number of products across the pharma value chain with a focus on excipients and upstream bioprocessing products and solutions.

As a PhD chemist by trade, Morgan has also published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals and holds patents in the life science space. We spoke about her ‘squiggly’ career journey and passion for innovation.

BPR: Could you give me an overview of the work you do at Kerry and what the company focuses on?

As the vice president and portfolio executive, I am responsible for the global pharma and biopharma business at Kerry. We provide a number of ingredients and raw materials across the pharma value chain with a focus on excipients and upstream bioprocessing products and solutions. This broad portfolio allows us to support a number of life-saving medicines from small molecules to biologics, while supporting new innovations and modalities as well as cell and gene therapy. 

BPR: When did your interest in science develop?

My interest started at a young age, both as a deeply curious person, but also cultivated from my father and some seriously elaborate science fair projects, which in hindsight are hilarious given my age.  Aren’t all seventh graders really interested in the use of trees for soil conservation and water infiltration on farmlands? Or maybe that was just me.

BPR: What piqued your interest?

A deep desire to understand how the world and human bodies work and, though it may sound hokey, I have always wanted to have a positive impact to advance through my work. My heart goes pitter-patter for innovation and new possibilities, so I just followed this desire along a bit of a squiggly career path.

BPR: Can you tell us about your journey to where you are now?

I am a scientist by training, with a PhD in Organic Chemistry, but I quickly moved to the business side, holding various business development-type roles at a research organization, a law firm and a small venture capital. I had a long stint at Lubrizol, a leading specialty chemical company, working on M&A for their health group (medical device and pharma businesses) before transitioning to business roles, running their pharma and nutra businesses. For the past two years, I have been at Kerry and learning new things around oral solid dose, biologics and the wonderful world of biotech.

BPR: Have you encountered any bumps in the road along the way? 

Of course, if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t growing or learning. I did try to go straight into a business development position at a big pharma company straight out of my drug discovery role, and was quickly met with closed doors. I had a lot of ambition, but had a lot to learn. The journey since then has been both rewarding and challenging. I learned along the way what I loved, what motivated me and what I didn't want to do. I can now tell you that I do not want to be a lawyer, I do not want to run a VC fund and I do not want to just do deals without being connected to the business. I think it is important for people to know that my salary and level of responsibility went up and down on the journey. I was measuring progression based on what I was learning, what I was able to contribute and the impact that I was having. I later realized that the dots will connect in retrospect.

BPR: What do you feel most passionate about in your current role?

I feel passionate about our team, the potential of the business and the innovation happening in the industry.

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