Alex was nominated and accepted to the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduating in 1982, he served as a U.S. Army Ranger, finishing his military career with the rank of captain. “It was challenging and rewarding at the same time,” he said. I learned a lot about leadership, service, and the important role the academy has in shaping future leaders for our country.”
Today, Alex serves as a mentor for military veterans transitioning to civilian life through programs like ACP AdvisorNet. At Johnson & Johnson, we believe it’s imperative that our veterans and their families have access to the health and wellness support they need during this period.
Healthcare is the biggest challenge facing society today. Johnson & Johnson is among the largest corporate donors to global public health issues, contributing nearly $1 billion dollars in funds and products in 2014.
Alex believes the best approach to understanding the challenges of healthcare issues around the world is to tackle them firsthand. In April 2014, he joined Bill Gates at the Gates Foundation Neglected Tropical Diseases forum in Paris, as J&J is a committed partner to eliminating NTDs. In August of that same year, Alex and J&J Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels traveled to South Africa where they met with patients being treated for multi-drug resistant TB.
In November, Alex traveled to China with the Operation Smile founders to meet with families whose children were having surgeries to repair a cleft lip; in 2015 he announced a $25 million enhanced partnership with Operation Smile.
“It was an incredibly humbling and proud moment for me with a middle class upbringing from the Midwest. In a full circle kind of way, my parents’ and families’ influence, my military service, and my development at the company had prepared me for this significant moment, to lead a global workforce focused on creating better health outcomes for people and communities around the world,” he said.
As the Ebola outbreak spread across West Africa last year, Johnson & Johnson announced a commitment to accelerate and expand the production of an Ebola vaccine program in development at its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies.
The Ebola epidemic served as a reminder of our “critical responsibility as the world’s largest health care company to help improve the lives of people around the globe, whether it is working to prevent diseases in vulnerable populations or contributing to humanitarian relief efforts,” Alex wrote In a J&J corporate blog post.
Through our commitment, we are mobilizing significant resources and expertise and collaborating with global health stakeholders to help contain Ebola, protect the health of those at risk of being infected, and save lives.
In June 2014, Alex participated in a roundtable discussion with President Barack Obama to discuss policies at the Summit for Working Families. Lisa Rumain, a Total Rewards Manager for Johnson & Johnson also attended the Summit, to tell her story about how instrumental J&J is in helping her balance work and family.
Alex believes work-life balance is critical for all employees, to maintain productivity and engagement, but also for their own personal well-being. In a commencement address at Thomas Jefferson University, he urged graduates to remember to care for themselves. Alex also tries to set an example for employees by setting aside time for his own health every day.
In an interview with the Wharton School about his leadership style, Alex spoke about the importance of creating an open forum for debate.
“I’ve always found that encouraging a diversity of opinion by different members, sometimes even challenging people to come in and argue the opposite of the direction that we’re heading in, really makes sure that you have thought through the implications,” he said.
Last year, PFLAG honored the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies with the 2014 Straight for Equality in the Workplace Award. Alex attended the Straight for Equality Gala in New York and accepted the award on behalf of the company.
Alex is also the executive sponsor of the Johnson & Johnson Women’s Leadership Initiative, an employee resource group which supports women’s career development. Earlier this year J&J announced an upgrade to our parental leave policy in the United States that provided all new parents – maternal, paternal, and adoptive –the opportunity to take eight weeks of paid leave during the first year of the family’s birth or adoption.
“My parents and my five siblings were my first and among the best mentors anyone could wish for. They told me the things that really mattered and delivered many “tough love” messages. As they say, the greatest lessons in life are often learned at home,” Alex said in 2009 speech for the Healthcare Women’s Business Association.
Today, he frequently says: ‘We are pleased, but never satisfied.’ This attitude of continuous improvement is something he learned early in life. “Back in Freemont, Michigan, there were teachers like Ann Werner, who taught me not only how to diagram a sentence, but also how to encourage and inspire at the same time. I still remember getting back papers and, even with a good grade, there would be plenty of red so the next one would be even better,” he said.
Last summer, in the height of the Ice Bucket Challenge, Alex dumped a bucket of ice water over his head to raise awareness for ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—and pledged a donation to the ALS Association on behalf of Johnson & Johnson employees around the globe. The Ice Bucket Challenge went on to raise over $115 million for ALS research and patient care.
In Johnson & Johnson’s third consecutive year as the lead sponsor of the Philadelphia Tri-Rock Philadelphia Triathlon, Alex participated on a relay team and gave an inspiring kick-off speech to the J&J team of more than 750 employees.
This year, Johnson & Johnson participants raised more than $500,000 for cancer research and treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), adding up to more than $1 million raised over the past three years.