Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Getting to know Paul


JULY 2022 - Paul Kidston became Executive Director of the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy (CFP) on June 1. The CFP Board is thrilled to be able to draw from the depth and breadth of his work experience to further advance the work of the Foundation to support the profession of pharmacy. In this Q&A article, Paul shares some thoughts and experiences to help you get to know him better. You can reach Paul at 647-962-7253 (cell) or pkidston@cfpnet.ca

What led you to the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy?

About half a year ago I reached a turning point in my life. I had been running my own business for 15 years, consulting with large corporations in the areas of sales training, performance improvement and streamlining operations. Outside of work, over the past 30 years I became more and more involved in volunteer leadership roles in not-for-profit organizations. I’ve served on the board of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Feed Nova Scotia, and most recently the national board of the Kidney Foundation of Canada. In 2018 I completed the ICD.D program for board governance at the Rothman School of Business at the University of Toronto.

It was like I was living parallel lives, and I realized I didn’t want to do that anymore. I wanted to focus on applying my professional skill set to a not-for-profit organization, ideally in the healthcare sector. So I began refocusing my energy on finding a full-time career. Not long after this I discovered the job posting for the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy. It was a perfect fit.

What is it about pharmacy that appeals to you?

Pharmacy is kind of like a hidden world. A best-kept secret. When I was interviewing for the job, I did my research and uncovered all kinds of stories about the wonderful work pharmacists are doing for their patients. I was inspired when I read about their increasing efforts in the primary healthcare role brought about during the pandemic. Those stories and my conversations with the CFP Board fused together and inspired me to take on this position.

What about the Foundation itself?

CFP fills a wonderful niche for the profession. We are like Switzerland in that we can play a neutral and collaborative role in supporting pharmacy practice research and recognize and support leaders who can help advance the profession. My goal is for CFP to become more visible across the profession. Building on the great work of previous CFP leaders, I believe we can take new approaches to do that.

What do you mean by “new approaches”?

Here’s an example. One thing that I really came to recognize during my volunteer leadership work was that many not-for-profit communities lack the digital marketing systems to grow and build upon their successes. The problem was not a lack of ideas or a lack of passion, but a lack of digital marketing and social media capacity to amplify their message.

In my previous roles, I leveraged my background in governance, marketing and business development. Initially helping in the development of policies, then collaboratively developing a strategic plan. From there we built out new responsive websites, social media channels and digital assets to connect fundraising initiatives with research efforts. We then focused our marketing messages on patient outcomes, and recognized researchers for advancements that help improve patient experiences.

I recognize that every not-for-profit has its own unique value proposition. My job is to work closely with all our stakeholders at CFP to showcase our value proposition and then to inspire pharmacy practice leaders to embrace innovation that improves their professional practices and ultimately results in better patient experiences.

I am standing on the shoulders of giants before me who have helped build the CFP to where it is today. As we move forward in the future, I know that any new approach is going to be collaborative. I’m looking to build on our current and previous successes.

How has it been so far?

I joined on June 1, the start of conference season. In just four weeks, I met students, practicing pharmacists, researchers and industry leaders who told me about their connection to CFP.  Their stories were inspiring. I also attended the very successful CFP golf tournament and had a chance to meet many of our sponsors. All that culminated into my first CFP board meeting. It’s been a whirlwind, but what a great introduction to the job.

For the next few months, my focus is on a seamless transition into the job by leading its current programs. My goal is to ensure all stakeholder expectations are met. Toward the end of the year, I’ll start work with the board on a new strategic plan.

Any new learnings about CFP since you’ve come on board?

Many of the pharmacists I met are leaders, whether in their pharmacies, in research or by serving the profession in other ways. I was struck by how many came forward to tell me they had received grants or awards from CFP early in their careers.

CFP has lots of history and is deeply rooted, and I’d say it’s clearly punching above its weight in terms of helping to advance the profession. I’m looking forward to opening new opportunities, exploring new ideas, and working with pharmacy leaders to advance the profession for improved patient care.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I’m an amateur singer and songwriter and a supporter of the Mississauga Arts Council. Ang, my wife, and I enjoy supporting the arts community at various events. Live theatre, art exhibitions, and musical events is how we enjoy spending our time together. Of course, being originally from Nova Scotia, I’m a committed sailor (Ang says I should be committed!) who is currently on the hunt for a new sailboat and a place to sail it. On weekends, when we are not spending time with our two sons and their wives, you will find us on bikes exploring trails throughout Ontario.