May 4, 2021

From trucks and tablets to titers: Zymergen’s new Chief Manufacturing Officer brings decades of shop floor experience to biofacturing

Aindrea Campbell’s industry know-how to help mainstream products made with biology.

Aindrea Campbell, Chief Manufacturing Officer

On Monday, May 3, Aindrea Campbell joined Zymergen as our Chief Manufacturing Officer. Aindrea helped lead manufacturing for Apple’s multi-billion-dollar iPad consumer electronics product line and steered a number of Ford programs to improved manufacturing engineering processes. We spoke with Aindrea about her diverse experiences, what they have in common, and how they apply in a biofacturing domain.

Q: What attracted you to Zymergen?
A: Biofacturing. I love the impact we can make with our products and the possibility this creates for our planet. I also love that it’s an “and” solution—better material properties and better for the earth.

Q: You started your career making ‘big’ things like vehicles, and now you’re moving into manufacturing with very, very small things – microbes. Can you draw any similarities?
A: Manufacturing is all about people and process. Regardless of whether the product is big or small, it takes empowered teams of people making decisions and executing on the factory floor and throughout the supply chain. Standardized processes ensure we manufacture products consistently, with impeccable quality, and deliver on time. These are the things that I love about manufacturing—the incredible people who make all this happen, the dynamic energy in the factory and production, and the precision of crisp, intentional processes to make products.

Q: Are there particular lessons you’ve learned along the way you think are essential for our company and culture?
A: These probably sound familiar, but these simple lessons are so important. First, it’s all about the people. Supporting people with the right resources, dialogue, and structure helps them efficiently achieve their goals and lets everyone accomplish more. Communicating the priorities and direction for the organization gets people enrolled in the vision and ensures we’re all marching in the same direction. Second, the details matter—a lot. I’ve succeeded in the past with transparency of details, flow of information, and speedy decisions by talented people. As I said, these are simple, and they work well, so great things can happen.

Q: What challenges do you see as being most pressing for Zymergen?
A: The transformation from a research organization to a commercial company is exciting and will be a period of a lot of growth. Communication will be key—both vertically and horizontally throughout the org—to ensure everyone is operating off the latest information. Building these communication channels via relationships — and also more structured approaches — will help everyone stay aligned. Also, with growth comes change as new systems are put in place. Embracing the change and leveraging it as an opportunity to learn will be fun and super rewarding.

Q: What do you expect to focus on in your first couple of weeks?
A: Getting to know the team and establishing a management cadence to support our transformation to becoming a commercial company. As we scale and grow, having a regular cadence of operating meetings will be key to how we run the business.

Lightning round:

Where are you from? I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan and later attended the University of Michigan—Go Blue!

Where do you live now? We live in the south bay, in Los Gatos, California.

Can you tell us about your family? My husband, Josh, and I are the parents of teenagers! We’re not sure where the time went, but our sons, Ben (15) and Owen (13), are growing up fast. Somehow, this comes with a menagerie of pets, including a tarantula, a baby boa constrictor, and a tolerant, standard poodle.

Hobbies or outside interests? Yoga is a big part of my daily fitness routine. I’ve been practicing for about 15 years. My husband enjoys mountain biking, and I occasionally try to keep up with him. Recently, I installed an apiary in our backyard and started beekeeping. There’s no honey yet, but I’m hoping for some by the end of the summer!

Sweet or savory? Oh! Can I say both? I love the diverse, fantastic restaurants in the Bay Area and enjoy exploring new foods and cuisine. My husband does most of the cooking in our house, but I’ll often make Sunday dinner and have fun trying new recipes. Ben is enrolled in 9th Grade International Cuisine class, and given shelter-in-place this past year, we’ve had fun as he does his homework in the kitchen.