This Wednesday I attended one of the more unique events of my career at Johnson & Johnson: a meeting of the small subset of American companies that are 100 years old or older. At the historic New York Stock Exchange, I joined leaders from a variety of companies spanning the breadth of American business, many of whose products and ideas helped shape the modern world. The sessions at the event allowed us to share stories and best practices from a wide variety of organizations that have continued to innovate and reinvent themselves as technologies, markets and the world have changed. At the close of the day’s events, I joined Con Edison’s CEO Kevin Burke and other CEOs in the Century Club to ring the closing bell for the New York Stock Exchange.
Photo by Ben Hider/NYSE Euronext
Participating in the event caused me to think about all that Johnson & Johnson has managed through in its 127 years of history: three major depressions -- in 1893, 1907 and 1929 -- two World Wars, the move from horses to automobiles and then to airplanes, and the birth and continuing evolution of modern healthcare. We have grown from just 14 employees in New Brunswick, New Jersey in 1886 to almost 128,000 men and women at more than 275 operating companies in over 60 countries, touching the lives of more than a billion people each day. What’s remained constant throughout our history are the values expressed in Our Credo, our commitment to focusing on the long term, our track record of innovation and our commitment to caring for the world one person at a time. In 1908, Company founder Robert Wood Johnson addressed our employees in a letter, and his words still resonate today. He wrote: “We are all fortunate, in that we are engaged in manufacturing products to be used throughout the world for the relief of pain and suffering.” As all of us who participated in the Century Club meeting reflected on our heritage and continued growth and evolution, I’m excited to think about the ways in which Johnson & Johnson will continue to grow, adapt and innovate into the future.