Have you ever taken on a new role only to be shocked at how little the field, capabilities, and function itself has advanced? After 22 years with Johnson & Johnson, I found myself in this situation when I was given the opportunity to run the J&J category management team here in Northwest Arkansas. I was excited to lead a critical function with which I had early career experience during the inception of category management principles and frameworks. As a lover of analytics, especially category analytics, I would often stay up nights discovering deep insights to unlock category growth.
The Spark for Change
Years later, I was gaining great experiences at J&J in sales, shopper marketing, shopper insights, and in the medical devices sector. I was excited to make an impact on a top customer, and began to observe, listen, and ask questions. Very quickly, I noticed the redundancy of many operations, and that the manual data pulls and reporting lacked advancement. Fortunately, the organization had recently completed an industry survey highlighting strengths and weaknesses in our overall company approach to category management. The findings were aligned with my first 90-day observations.
The Journey to Impact
I often rely on framing my goals by using **Michael Watkins’ 4 key steps for leadership: Diagnose, Define, Design and Deliver. After my observations, I knew that transforming our approach to advanced analytics and business intelligence was what the company, and more importantly, the customer needed. So, I set out on a journey speaking to industry experts (who may have also written recent blogs here!) and leveraging strong relationships in surrounding functions (such as supply chain and technology) to learn from their successes and failures.
I was also fortunate to be supported by our team VP, who empowered me to manage my team as I saw fit for long-term success. This, in turn, enabled me to hire talent aligned with my focus areas (intelligent automation & data science) and to advance category management while freeing up time for my team to dig deeper into category growth insights.
Career Path Reinvigorated
It has been extremely rewarding to build new skills in the fast-paced field of big data while becoming a leader for J&J Consumer Health. What started as my own intellectual curiosity around improving processes and tools has led me to a new area of expertise where J&J, and the industry at large, are focusing significant resources. While employing new ways of working led by technology, I have uncovered a new career direction and recently accepted a role focused on this space of advanced analytics and data science. I have been afforded the opportunity to focus on a space where I have passion and drive to continue to grow professionally.
As I enthusiastically embark on a new area of expertise with Johnson & Johnson, I hope this Groundhog Day career story inspires you to lean into making an impact where you also see business changing possibilities that ignite your passion and intellectual curiosity.
** The First 90 Days, Michael D. Watkins. 2003. Updated and Expanded 2013. Harvard Business Review Press
*Director of Advanced Analytics & Business Intelligence, U.S. – Johnson & Johnson
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written
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