Company: Johnson & Johnson
Title: Worldwide chairman of pharmaceuticals and executive vice president
Of all the fierce women featured in this year’s report, only one manages a $40 billion-per-year business. That’s Johnson & Johnson worldwide pharma chairman Jennifer Taubert, who oversees the Janssen pharmaceutical companies, which comprise about one-third of J&J’s 135,000 employees worldwide. Globally, J&J is the third-largest pharma company, Taubert said.
“To be able to bring new hope and have an impact for patients and their families is really extraordinary,” she said. “I feel fortunate that I get to do that every day.”
In the role, she manages the Janssen pharmaceutical companies in their efforts to bring “transformational” drugs to patients in disease areas such as cancer, HIV, diabetes and more. The drugmaker is currently dealing with some costly patent losses to old medicines, but its new launches are helping to fill the gap.
Before joining J&J in 2005, Taubert spent 18 years at Allergan and Merck in sales and other roles. At J&J, she’s worked in strategy positions, internal medicine and as the company’s group chairman for the Americas. Taubert has been in her current job since last July.
Throughout her career, Taubert says she didn’t hesitate to make lateral moves in order to gain a broader base of experience. She’s traveled what she called a “career lattice,” referring to side-to-side moves as well as up, rather than a linear career ladder.
Now, her experience has taken her to one of the most influential positions in the industry. Each day, Taubert said she approaches the job as an optimist and focuses on solutions rather than obstacles.
“I love finding ways to make things happen,” she said, “to do things for the first time, to really stretch boundaries. That’s one of the reasons why I particularly love being able to bring forward new therapies in disease areas patients haven’t been treated successfully in the past.”
While her role carries massive responsibilities, she acknowledges she wouldn’t be able to do it without colleagues. She’s an advocate of creating an environment where “people can be their best, most authentic selves” and speak freely. That, she has found, allows the team to perform up to its potential.
Asked about advice for women considering careers in biopharma, Taubert said they should “go for it,” and to make sure they’re working for a company that shares their own values.
“Don't be afraid to chart the path that you want,” she said. “Everybody’s career is their own career, not anybody else’s.”