Distinguished Alumni Award celebrates accomplished science career

Neil Klompas, the recipient of the Camosun College 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award, has made a strong impact in the fields of healthcare, finance, and biotechnology throughout his career.

Portrait style photograph of a man with a goatee and glasses smiling at the camera. He is a wearing a bright blue sports coat and open collar, light blue dress short.

Neil Klompas

Neil Klompas is the 2023 Distinguished Alumni award winner

"I am grateful to be honoured with the Distinguished Alumni Award,” says Neil. “My experience at Camosun was instrumental in shaping my career trajectory and instilling in me with not only a love of science, but also the values of excellence, collaboration, and innovation. I’m very happy to be welcomed back to accept this award and congratulate the Class of 2023.”

Following his service as a medic with the Canadian Armed Forces and as a paramedic with the BC Ambulance Service, Neil returned to post-secondary studies at Camosun College. He graduated in 1999 from the Applied Chemistry and Biochemistry diploma program, receiving the Biotechnology Excellence Award for his exceptional academic achievements and was subsequently a co-recipient of Camosun’s inaugural Promising Alumni Award in 2002.

“Congratulations Neil on the being awarded as this year’s Distinguished Alumni. We are so proud to see the many accomplishments and impressive careers that Camosun graduates go on to achieve,” says Dr. Lane Trotter, president of Camosun College.  

After Camosun, Neil received an undergraduate research award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) under which, while at the BC Cancer Research Center, he studied gene expression in Bordetella pertussis, the pathogenic bacteria responsible for whooping cough.

Neil continued his studies at the University of British Columbia, earning a bachelor of science undergraduate degree in Microbiology and Immunology. With a passion for science and an interest in business and finance, he complemented his scientific education with courses in commerce and accounting. Neil later joined a leading global accounting and professional services firm where he earned his Chartered Accountant designation. Working first in Canada and subsequently in the US, he made significant contributions to the firms’ Life Sciences Practices through supporting emerging start-ups, bridging the gap between science and business, and advising his clients on a range of transactions.

In 2007, Neil embarked on a new journey as the first Chief Financial Officer of Zymeworks, a start-up dedicated to developing next-generation antibody-based therapeutics for the treatment of cancer. His strategic and financial leadership played a pivotal role in the company's growth, driving it to become a global leader in its field. In 2017, Neil led Zymeworks’ simultaneous Initial Public Offering on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges, and in 2019 was recognized with British Columbia’s Chief Financial Officer of the Year Award in the Small Public Company category. Neil currently serves as Zymeworks’ President and Chief Operating Officer, and alongside his professional accomplishments, Neil has actively served on the boards of directors of both public and private corporations and not for profits, and has generously shared his expertise by mentoring young professionals, including serving on Camosun’s Faculty Advisory Board for Applied Chemistry and Biotechnology.

"As you begin your next chapter, my advice to graduates is to embrace change, follow your many passions and be adaptable. The world is constantly evolving, and success lies in your ability to embrace new ideas, technologies, and challenges. Never stop learning, seek opportunities to expand your horizons, and never underestimate the value of collaboration and building strong relationships,” says Neil.

The annual alumni awards highlight the outstanding achievements of individuals who exemplify Camosun's commitment to excellence and service, and who continue to make significant contributions in their fields. Camosun’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding alumni who have graduated more than 10 years ago.

Contact information

Rodney Porter

Camosun College