5 questions for a Fortune Most Powerful Woman
Jennifer Taubert, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson, has just been named to Fortune’s 2018 list of powerhouse leaders. We caught up with her to hear about her accomplishments, what inspires her—and what she has her sights set on achieving next.
In honor of this recognition, we sat down with Taubert to find out more about her new role at Johnson & Johnson, the company’s legacy of empowering female leaders, and what she’s most excited to achieve in service of patients everywhere.
What makes Johnson & Johnson such a great company for female employees?
Women have been at the heart of Johnson & Johnson from the very beginning— eight of the company’s first 14 employees were women, and it hired its first female scientist in 1908.
We recognize that, around the world, women are healthcare leaders—as professionals and as family decision-makers—and we can generate deeper insight to drive better results if women have a strong voice within Johnson & Johnson.
We regularly challenge ourselves to ensure our policies and practices help us attract and retain the very best talent, including women at all points of their careers.
Bottom line: Our diversity makes Johnson & Johnson both a more dynamic, exciting place to work and a more successful company.
What are you looking forward to accomplishing in your new role as Executive Vice President, Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals, which you took on in July 2018?
The work we do at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson has never been more important. The global population is aging, in good part thanks to medical advances, and we now have the challenge of not only lengthening lives, but making sure every one of those years is vital and healthy.
I’m excited about the scientific breakthroughs we’re seeing in some of the world’s most challenging diseases, from cancer to serious mental illness to inflammatory bowel disease and beyond. I am inspired by my colleagues around the world who dedicate every day to making those and other diseases a thing of the past.
I have no doubt that, by working together, we will truly change the trajectory of human health.
Part of the fun of working in healthcare is the next discovery is literally around the corner. Our work is never done, and that keeps it exciting.
Did you always have your sights set on being an influential force in the healthcare world?
I always loved science and medicine, particularly the way medicine works throughout the body. I also lost my mom to lung cancer when I was in my early 20s. My sisters were younger and still at home, and I experienced firsthand the impact it had on families.
So I always had a strong desire to work in healthcare, coupled with a passion to help people based on what I experienced in my own life.
I never dreamed I would be given the opportunities I actually have been given. My dreams have grown incrementally, as I’ve gained more experience and had more opportunities to work for a number of terrific people throughout my career.
What are you proudest of having accomplished at Johnson & Johnson?
While I led our Janssen business in The Americas, we closed every year with a look at the numbers—not only the financial figures, but the number of patients and families whose lives we touched that year.
What I’m most proud of is how significantly that number grew, thanks to the dedication and commitment of Janssen colleagues from Canada to Argentina. Each patient is so much more than a number, and every one tells a story of hope.
And all of this happens because of an extraordinary team of passionate people who bring diverse experiences and talents to the company, and who’ve created a culture that is intensely focused on winning for patients.
What do you hope to still achieve?
Part of the fun of working in healthcare and pharmaceuticals is that the next discovery is literally just around the corner. Our work is never done, and that keeps it exciting every day.
In terms of the future, I really want to see us continue to make key partnerships throughout the healthcare system, so we can work together to better understand patient behavior and truly deliver better health outcomes.
This way, we’re not just providing a pill or an injection; we’re providing comprehensive and integrated solutions to help people live longer, healthier and happier lives.