Photos courtesy of Johnson & Johnson.
For over 130 years, Johnson & Johnson has been focused on caring for people around the globe — a goal that inspires and unites its thousands of employees. Two such employees are Sabrina Henry, Research & Development Manager and a Brand Ambassador for AVEENO® and Ninkka Tamot, Senior Janssen Scientist & Antibody Engineer.
We recently got a chance to talk to Henry and Tamot about working as women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing and Design (STEM2D) and how Johnson & Johnson supports their ambitions and careers. Both were recently featured in a Johnson & Johnson video series, Behind the Lab Coat, produced earlier this year. Here’s what they had to say...
“Johnson & Johnson has supported me as a woman in STEM2D in many ways,” says Henry. “I’ve had the opportunity for learning and growth as an R&D scientist through various roles and experiences. I’ve held roles from applied research to driving technical strategy across our different consumer brands and product categories. When it comes to experiences, I have participated in development programs to help accelerate my technical and professional growth and even had an opportunity to live abroad.”
One specific way in which Johnson & Johnson supported Henry was by sponsoring her “three-month international assignment at the Johnson & Johnson Sante Beaute campus in France,” Henry notes. “This gave me exposure to our leadership, operations, and consumers within the European region, the framework for global product development process and practices, and helped to build stronger relationships with my European colleagues.
“Johnson & Johnson has Employee Resource Groups, such as WiSTEM2D and Skillman campus-based WISE (Women in Science and Engineering), where I volunteer to encourage young girls to pursue STEM through hands-on activities and career talks. It’s a passion of mine to build up the next generation of women scientists and engineers!” continues Henry.
“With all of that, Johnson & Johnson also supports my professional development not only for internally focused efforts, but also for external endeavors as well. Through my role as a Brand Ambassador for AVEENO® and with opportunities like being recently featured in the ‘Behind the Lab Coat’ series produced this year, I get to share my personal story and the inspirational stories of women in WiSTEM2D fields working at Johnson & Johnson.”
In her current role, Henry gets “an opportunity to be myself and showcase to the world our scientific expertise and how we impact consumers' lives every day through our products. I am humbled and appreciate that level of responsibility!”
For Henry, there are three best parts about working at J&J:
“Our products — Being in the Consumer Health business, I love how we display our scientific expertise with the consumer’s health at the forefront."
“Our work-life balance principles — Our company takes pride in ensuring employees are seen and valued as critical assets by ensuring resources are available to balance different areas of our personal lives.”
“Our people — We have a unique DNA within our culture — you will meet people who truly care about one another and share a common goal to address the healthcare needs of the 1.2 billion consumers and patients around the world.”
As for Tamot, she says that “Johnson & Johnson has been an incredible place to grow my career. I have been given opportunities to lead research projects and the rare opportunity and flexibility to pursue my PhD while I work. This has allowed me to grow as a scientist and deepen my understanding of the drug discovery field. The support for this has come from multiple levels, from senior leadership to my teammates and colleagues. It takes a village to grow a scientist, and the Johnson & Johnson scientific community support system has been incredible.”
As for dedicated programs and support for career development, Johnson & Johnson offers mentorship programs, “networking opportunities and employee resource groups to leverage,” Tamot explains. “I have been lucky to find mentors who have already broken barriers and are in leadership positions. They have been very supportive of my journey and have always kept an open-door policy that I have appreciated and hope to emulate.”
Not only this, but “Johnson & Johnson prioritizes work-life balance, most recently seen in the Return-to-Work initiative,” Tamot explains. “With the option of working three days on-site and two days from home, Johnson & Johnson has adapted an optimal post-pandemic work culture. This allows us to balance family life and career aspirations, without needing to compromise on either aspect of life.”
According to Tamot, the best part of working at Johnson & Johnson is “being part of a multifaceted organization with a wide global reach. We have the honor of impacting and helping people’s daily lives either through the consumer, medical or the pharmaceutical side of our company. Our Credo helps guide our science and our commitment to developing therapies and cures for a World Without Disease. This was recently exemplified by our response to the global pandemic.”
“I feel blessed that I get to work amongst brilliant scientists who are excited to come to work and are committed to help find cures for devastating diseases,” she continues.
In Henry’s daily work as a Research & Development Manager, she is “responsible for the Product Life Cycle of Aveeno® and Lubriderm® brands.” This involves leading “a team of scientists to manage the day-to-day product life cycle activities for these products, ranging from regulatory and compliance initiatives to creating value-driven growth opportunities.” In her cross-functional work Henry ensures that consumer health products are both safe for use and maintain expectations.
During her successful 12 years in R&D, Henry says that she has “also developed and launched new body and face products across other skin health and baby care categories. I ended up in this role based on personal interest and professional growth. I wanted to see the product development cycle end-to-end and round-out myself as a technical and business leader.” And, “as a Brand Ambassador for Aveeno®, I have the great opportunity to elevate the science behind the brand to consumers, healthcare professionals, media and industry leaders across various platforms — conferences, events, symposiums and social media,” Henry explains.
As a woman of color in science, Henry remarks that “being able to create products, both hair and skin care, that address specific needs that I even have, is a proud moment for me.”
In her personal life, Henry describes herself as an “adventurer, so I take my crew with me (and that’s my husband and my two daughters).” And, the three things that she can’t live without? “My Bible, water and a pack of gummy bears,” says Henry.
As for how she manages it all, Henry says that she balances family life and being a scientist by having a schedule.
“I have always been a curious person with a lot of questions about how things work in the world,” says Tamot, who is a second-generation Nepalese scientist. “Being raised by parents who are both scientists, my curiosity was always nurtured by science,” she continues. Her first science experiment was extracting DNA from a plant leaf with her dad when she was nine.
In her career, Tamot has worked on many exciting projects, such as HIV vaccines and targeted cancer therapies. She credits her growth from a technician into a senior scientist role to her “curiosity, stubborn determination and an appetite for learning. This growth could not have been possible without the support of many mentors along the way who have taken the time to guide me in this journey,” she says.
Currently, Tamot is a Senior Scientist at the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Here, she is a “part of a team of scientists who design biological therapy to treat wide ranging human diseases such as cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmunity,” explains Tamot.
“My day-to-day activities range from designing and running experiments, to reviewing and analyzing data generated by my team, to presenting the data to leadership teams and steering committees. I also meet with my colleagues to discuss new ideas to help design the best therapy for our patients. Finally, I read scientific articles to stay up to date with current literature and new scientific breakthroughs.”
When she’s not in the lab, Tamot says that “I love to cook, and one of my favorite things to make is a Nepalese dish called momos. They are dumplings that are super delicious.”
Henry’s message to young scientists is to “Dream Big. The sky's the limit, and always have a curiosity to learn.”
Henry also shared the best advice she’s ever received: “Just go for it.”
Women in STEM2D “have a hard time being assertive, which is something that I’ve struggled with myself,” noted Tamot. “However, I’m part of the lucky generation. We’ve had brilliant female scientists to look up to who’ve paved the path for us. We’ve made great strides, but there’s always room for improvement. Don’t be afraid to speak up and be heard.”
“I hope [that my story] can inspire the next generation of scientists to explore opportunities in STEM2D, whether it is an academic environment, a burgeoning startup or an industry-leading company like Johnson & Johnson.”
Visit the Johnson & Johnson YouTube Channel to view Sabrina and Ninkka sharing their stories in the Behind the Lab Coat series!
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