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.