Troubled J&J hires outsider, Sandra Peterson run its consumer unit

Troubled J&J hires outsider, Sandra Peterson to run its consumer unit

6:47 AM, 17th September 2012
Troubled J&J hires outsider, Sandra Peterson to run its consumer unit

NEW YORK, US: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) named an outsider, on 13 September 2012, to fill a top leadership role overseeing its troubled consumer health unit, a break from the company’s longstanding tradition of promoting executives from within, reported the New York Times.

The new executive, Sandra E Peterson, will serve as the group worldwide Chairwoman and will be responsible for overseeing consumer companies, information technology and the global supply chain, said J&J. Peterson, who will start in December, is now the Chairwoman and CEO of Bayer CropScience, division of the pharma company Bayer. Peterson, 52, has worked at Bayer since 2005, heading up the company’s diabetes divisions before taking a position as head of the CropScience unit.

Peterson will also serve as an executive committee member for the day-to-day management of the company. “Sandi Peterson is an experienced global leader known for her strategic thinking and proven track record in growing businesses. She brings 25 years of experience to her new role,” said Alex Gorsky, CEO, Johnson & Johnson.

Gorsky is himself new to the job, having become the CEO at a critical time, when the company is struggling to rebuild its reputation as one of the world’s most trusted brands after a series of product recalls, manufacturing problems and government inquiries.

Peterson will be responsible for the company’s consumer units, which are responsible for some of Johnson & Johnson’s best-known products (Band-Aid and Tylenol), but which are also still working to return popular brands to the shelves after a series of embarrassing recalls. Johnson & Johnson is under a consent decree with the Food and Drug Administration in which it has promised to overhaul operations at the three manufacturing plants that make its over-the-counter products.

The company decision to hire an outsider was applauded by Erik Gordon, who teaches business at the University of Michigan and follows the pharmaceutical industry. “I think it’s a smart move,” he said. “Johnson & Johnson needs some fresh air in the executive suite.”

He said morale had suffered from what he described as a decade-long culture of valuing profits over quality. “Bringing somebody from the outside in who was not part of that culture and who did not earn her promotions by going along with that is a good thing,” he said.

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