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William Campbell
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William Campbell

William Campbell
by Sophie Lily Polan


william campbellWilliam started as just one of two financial employees in the role of accountant for research in 1998. Now the department has 13 employees and he is the Controller for the research finance area of the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI). William is originally from Jamaica and worked there for 9 years as a police officer. When he came to Toronto in 1987 he decided to change his career path and became an accountant.   


Since 1998 the LTRI has gone from $23 million in funding to ranging between $80- 95 million per year. The majority of the funding is from federal agencies such as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) as well as provincial agencies such as Ministry of Research and Innovation. As the Controller it is Williams’ role to oversee all financial operations ensuring that as an organization all of the proper controls are in place and that there is accurate accounting for the funding that the Institute receives from various agencies. William also makes sure that the financial analysts are reporting back to the agencies in a timely manner by sending their financial statements detailing how the funding was expended and to make sure that all of their annual audits run smoothly.


Every day at work is different for William depending on what needs to be done. Sometimes he will go in with an agenda and it will soon go out the door because, fundamentally, William is working to serve the principal investigators (PIs). His job is to make sure that whatever financial information PI’s want to know about their grants is provided to them. The PI’s need to focus on their research without having to worry about the financial reporting back to the granting agencies, so William ensures that it all goes as smoothly as possible. To be an effective and efficient department, the finance team must ensure that they are on top of everything from the questions the PI’s may have, to whatever requirements are needed from the granting agencies – and these often change between competitions.


The financial department works with the grants administration group to assist with the grants. Grants are separated into what they call the pre-award and post-award phases. The pre-award phase is done by the grants administrator team (Tina and Moran) to assist the PI’s in providing availability of funding opportunities, information for their grant application and  approving their applications electronically. William’s job comes in for the post-award phase which includes subsequent financial reporting, expense eligibility and accounting for the grants.


In 2001 Mount Sinai was awarded funding to build The Centre for Phenogenomics which was finished in 2007. The building and outfitting cost was around $70 million and it was William and the financial department’s role to make sure that all of the funding that was needed was in place. This was the main project at the time so the financial team played an essential role in  making sure all of the funding was processed in time, that all the contractors were paid and any other financial needs for the building project were dealt with.


The finance group, from a research standpoint, is small yet dynamic. In terms of the overall management from projects like CIHR and CFI, the department has an impeccable record. An accountant wants to have a flawless reputation when it comes to managing other people’s money which is exactly what William and his team has been able to achieve. CFI has made at least 3  monitoring visits, where they come to the LTRI to see for themselves how the money is managed and to ensure that the appropriate controls are in place. Each time the report card back has been stellar. It’s a huge honour for William and the team that over the past 20 years the finance department has had an excellent track record in terms of how they’ve managed funding and reported back to the main stakeholders. Since the establishment of the LTRI, well over $1 billion has passed through its doors to support cutting edge research.


When William was talking about accounting he couldn’t stop smiling. For him, every day he is excited to come to work and it’s something he looks forward to each day. Math and accounting is something he has enjoyed for many years - ever since he was a kid. The best feeling for William is when he has a completed and balanced spread sheet, and he knows that everything is perfect. William has dedicated the past 20 years of his service to the LTRI and the financial department and in terms of his own balance sheet, he is starting to contemplate retirement. He will no doubt Excel in that too!



Read more about research at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum.

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