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Personal Stories
A Recipe for Success: How a Family Bakery Shaped a Future Healthcare Leader at Johnson & Johnson
The company's Chief Medical Officer, Joanne Waldstreicher, has been named a 2016 Healthcare Champion for Women by the National Association for Female Executives. Her mom, Audrey, reflects on her daughter's path to success.
Audrey with her daughter, Joanne

In our family, working hard was a way of life. Joanne’s father, Elliott, and I worked in our family bakery and, like most bakery owners, we were up before dawn to start the day, and home in the early evening.

These long hours devoted to our family business shaped our life, molded our collective experiences, and significantly influenced how our children grew up.

A Childhood Shaped By Science
As the youngest of our three children, Joanne was always determined, fiercely competitive and a natural-born leader. Her free time was occupied with her favorite activities—Girl Scouts, reading, singing, swimming and teaching herself to play guitar. In school, her best and favorite subjects were science and math, but that should come as no surprise considering her hands-on experiments with her dad at the bakery.

My husband studied at the American Institute of Baking, where he learned the true science behind this skill. He passed his knowledge to his children, especially Joanne, who spent a lot of her free time in the bakery working with the other bakers. She loved to mix different ingredients and measure the correct portions.

Elliott always created different formulas for Joanne to figure out or follow as she calculated the various ratios and percentages for each baked good. She thrived in this environment and it became apparent that her passion for science was fueled by an eagerness to learn.

A curiosity for the many avenues science could take ultimately led Joanne to the decision to attend medical school. Her enthusiasm for medicine was always focused on research and discovery, with the goal of helping people in need.

A Career Shaped By Passion
Looking back, I could not have predicted Joanne’s success in the field of medicine specifically, but I knew her passion and drive would lead her to greatness. That’s why I’m so proud to congratulate my daughter on being recognized by the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE) as the 2016 Healthcare Champion for Women.

The annual NAFE Women of Excellence Awards honor the achievements of outstanding women committed to serving and enriching their workplaces, communities and the world. Like Joanne, recipients are selected because of their vision, courage, compassion, proven success and generosity as demonstrated by how they help other women succeed.

In our family we live by a motto that Joanne’s father used to share: “When work gets difficult and I feel I can’t go on, I step back, take my apron off, turn it around, put it back on, and get back to work.”

This mantra has fueled Joanne and her determination to overcome any obstacle. She has navigated significant challenges by always viewing obstacles as stepping-stones—not deterrents—toward making a positive impact for humanity.

I speak on behalf of our entire family when I say how proud we are of her many accomplishments as Chief Medical Officer at Johnson & Johnson—and her efforts to make a difference in the world and help shape a better future.