After losing CEO race to Gorsky, J&J's McCoy jumps ship

Johnson & Johnson's Sherilyn McCoy is taking a well-worn path out of her vice chairman's job: She's accepted another CEO post, shortly after losing out in the horse race for J&J's ($JNJ) top slot. Tapped as co-vice chairman with Alex Gorsky last January, McCoy was suddenly in the running to be the first female Big Pharma chief. But the board passed her over, choosing Gorsky instead.

McCoy's decision to leave probably didn't surprise many at J&J; it's something of a tradition for the losing candidate to bow out. Just think of Christopher Viebacher jumping into Sanofi's ($SNY) CEO chair, soon after Andrew Witty bested him for the post at GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK).

Now, McCoy takes the reins at Avon Products. In some ways, the company is quite similar to J&J. It's much smaller, of course, but its cosmetics and skin care products mirror some consumer brands McCoy supervised at J&J. But most striking is the fact that both Avon and J&J are working to repolish their images, after a series of public snafus.

Ironically enough, McCoy will serve on Avon's board with another ex-pharma executive: Fred Hassan, who ran Schering-Plough until it merged with Merck ($MRK) in 2009. Commenting on McCoy's appointment to the WSJ, Hassan hinted at the trials McCoy faces in her new job: After pointing out her "significant turnaround track record," Hassan said: "Given her consistent record of outperforming against new challenges, we have great confidence that under Sheri's leadership Avon can successfully execute against our strong long-term prospects."

- see the release from J&J
- check out the Reuters news
- read the WSJ piece