It's been said that the key to creating the kind of changes that can empower women in the workplace is to have women in the room when all the big decisions are being made.
Well, you should see the women who will be in the room at the upcoming MAKERS Conference.
The annual gathering is part of the MAKERS program, which recognizes female leaders across all industries for their exceptional accomplishments, including their support and mentorship of female professionals.
At this year's conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., three inspiring Johnson & Johnson women will be honored for their work. They'll also get the chance to meet such trailblazing leaders as Gloria Steinem and Sheryl Sandberg, and discuss how they can collectively make an even greater difference for women in the world.
In anticipation, we sat down with this year's winners to learn about their personal journey to success—and how they are doing their part to mentor the next generation of Makers.
The Innovator: Creating a Legacy of Leadership Among Women in STEM
The Maker: , Vice President, Research & Development, Ethicon, Inc., part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies. Muir advocates for women's leadership roles as the sponsor of the Ethicon Women’s Leadership Initiative in Cincinnati, and also through her involvement with WiSTEM2D, a Johnson & Johnson initiative aimed at getting young women excited about careers in science and technology.
My job is to … oversee the medical robotics program. I lead a team of engineers and marketers who develop tools that enable more people to have life-saving surgical procedures.
To me, being a leader means … people, opportunity and risk. People in the sense that I am only a leader if I am influencing others to make a change. It also means understanding what the opportunity is, where we need to go, and being able to galvanize people around that opportunity. And it means being willing to take a risk that I will be wrong, we will be wrong, something will go wrong—and knowing that it is OK. It also means knowing when to be a follower, frequently with the group of people that I am “leading.”
I have been a part of developing products that make a difference in people's lives, that save lives. Those are team-based accomplishments that I revel in the most.
Mentoring is especially important for women because … women typically do not have the collective experience in industry leadership that men have. Men are probably drawing on three to four generations of experience or more—much of which gets passed down and around informally. Generally speaking, women have a few decades of experience, maybe a generation or two, so we need mentoring to expand our collective experience.
I am most proud of … paying my own way through college with no help. No loans. Nothing. By completing an engineering degree and working to pay for it at the same time, I realized what I could do! Also, at work, I have been a part of developing so many products that make a difference in people's lives, that save lives—like surgical devices for oncology cases. Those are team-based accomplishments that I revel in the most.
Being named a MAKER … is a great honor because I know how few people are named—and I’m really impressed by my fellow colleagues who made the list last year. It connotes to me making a positive difference in the world, which is a passion of mine at and outside of work.
The Groundbreaker: Supporting Patients and the Leaders of Tomorrow
The Maker: , M.D., Ph.D., Worldwide Vice President and Global Head, Regulatory Affairs, Medical Device Companies. A physician and scientist, McMurry-Heath was the first African American woman to graduate from Duke University’s M.D./Ph.D. program. She's also the founding director of the Aspen Institute's Health, Medicine and Society Program, which brings industry leaders together to explore how healthcare policies impact people across the U.S.
My job is to … ensure that the medical devices we make perform well and offer benefits to patients, so the public has trust and confidence in our innovations and the technology behind them. It is the perfect intersection of science, policy, diplomacy and science education.
It’s hard to envision how you fit the life you want to lead into the career you want to have. Real-life examples help you figure it out, like, 'Oh, that person has a child.' Mentors can help you picture yourself in certain life situations.
My path to leadership began … when I worked on Capitol Hill and led the health portion of former senator Joe Lieberman’s presidential campaign. That was my first leadership opportunity—and I could see the impact we were making. Some of the policies we worked on and the initiatives we developed came to fruition in some form, like the American Center for Cures, which is dedicated to finding cures for major diseases.
Mentoring is especially important for women because … It’s hard to envision how you fit the life you want to lead into the career you want to have. A lot of times the real-life examples help you figure it out, like, “Oh, that person has a child” or “That African American woman went to a predominantly white high school.” Mentors can help you picture yourself in certain life situations.
My department has a really high percentage of women, and we've been flexible in allowing team members to step in and out of their career development trajectories as family circumstances dictate. I have also found that being very open about my own journey as a leader with a young child has helped up-and-coming leaders feel more comfortable bringing their whole selves to work.
The Advocate: Building a Strong International Workforce By Championing Diversity
The Maker: , Vice President, Information Technology, Consumer, Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Global Consumer Customer & Sales IT. Levin helps the company address gender diversity in the EMEA region through her work with Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. She's also a member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative Steering Committee, and she's on the advisory board of Europe’s LEAD Network, which aims to advance women in the consumer goods industry.
My job is to … collaborate with Johnson & Johnson's commercial business to deliver technology solutions, like helping make a sales rep's job more effective by providing the best technology. The work we do directly impacts the way we partner with our customers and ultimately reach consumers.
Often, when you get a new role, you see the job description and all the requirements and wonder: Can I do all of this? Men tend to say, 'Yeah, I can.' But women don’t always have as much confidence.
To me, being a leader means … supporting the people who work in my organization. A manager once said to me, “I want you to direct these people.” Even though I didn’t have the confidence in myself initially, she believed in me. From that experience, I learned that giving people encouragement is critical. Often, when you get a new role, you see the job description and all the requirements and prerequisites and wonder: Can I do all of this? Men tend to say, “Yeah, I can.” But women don’t always have as much confidence.
Mentoring is essential because … It’s really important to have trusted people to talk to, to bounce thoughts off of them, and get their advice. I am at heart a shy person, and one of my mentors once suggested that I just be “Diane” and let that person shine through. That was the greatest advice I received early in my career.
I am most proud of … making a difference in the lives of the people I work with. I am so happy when people I work with get promoted or land roles they have always wanted. It’s nice to see that the support I gave them helped in some way.