Sharon Kathryn D'Agostino
New Brunswick, NJ
Within weeks of stepping into the new role, my family, team and friends heard me say, ‘I was born to do this job.’
For about four years I was a global president in the consumer group at Johnson & Johnson. I loved the job. I worked with an impressive group of leaders, most of whom I had known for years, and a high-performing team with a track record of driving innovation and business growth. I truly looked forward to going to work each day, as I thrived on the opportunities and challenges of the business.
Then, out of the blue, I received a call inviting me to interview for a role leading the corporation’s worldwide philanthropy group. I had long admired the leader to whom the position reported and immediately agreed to add my name to the list of candidates. Over the next few days, however, I began to ask myself if I truly wanted to leave my position and wondered if I had the skills required to do the new job well.
As the interviewing process began, some colleagues were highly supportive and recognized the new opportunity as a great fit for me. Others expressed total disbelief, telling me, "You are a business leader and will hate a staff role.” Even the interviewers questioned whether I would be willing to make the transition.
In the end I did what I have always done: I followed my heart and accepted the role. It was absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. I cannot say that changing jobs was easy; it was not. The learning curve was steep and I moved from being an expert in many areas to being an expert in none (or so it seemed to me). Some days I felt unqualified for the role and questioned why the company had put its faith in me. On those days I also missed my former team, many of whom had become close friends and advisors.
But most days I found my new job exhilarating. It gave me the opportunity to grow and become a voice for girls, women and children, linking my personal passion with my professional life. Johnson & Johnson has a long legacy of advancing maternal and child health and survival. In September 2010, our terrific team of experts in global public health was instrumental in developing the Johnson & Johnson five-year commitment to the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child Campaign, a global movement to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.
My team was patient and began teaching me what I needed to know. I was and remain deeply grateful to them. The business skills I had developed--strategic planning, building and leading teams, focusing on measurable results-- were valued. And within weeks of stepping into the new role, my family, team and friends heard me say, “I was born to do this job.” I cannot imagine loving any position more.
An undergraduate student takes a risk and applies for a PhD program.