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Colleen Goggins '79

Colleen Goggins '79

Colleen Goggins brings together the art and science of healthy living

By Adrienne Murrill

[Ed. note: the following profile is based on two previous interviews Ms. Goggins granted to the Kellogg School]

Colleen Goggins ‘79 would like to get into your bathroom. Not literally, of course, but through the brands she manages at Johnson & Johnson.

“If most people in the United States opened up their medicine cabinet, they’d find a huge share taken up by J&J products,” says the worldwide chairman of the consumer and personal care group. “We’re trying to grow our importance to people and the rituals they undertake for their personal care. Our mission is to bring science to the art of healthy living.” She wants consumers to feel good about the product’s function and its form, too.

One way the company does this is through its packaging, which has been transformed under the direction of Chris Hacker, vice president of strategic design. At a time when many businesses and consumers are turning “green,” Goggins says J&J has always been a leader in sustainability. “(Customers) appreciate a brand with a sustainability profile, and this contributes to healthy living.”

The brands that Goggins’ manages are split among four business units. There is skincare, which includes Neutrogena, Aveeno, Roc and Lubriderm; and consumer healthcare, which includes oral care products like Listerine and Reach toothbrushes, as well as wound care products like Band-Aids and Neosporin. A third unit is infant care, such as the J&J baby line, and the overr-the-counters and nutritionals group includes Tylenol, Imodium, Splenda and Nicorette.

The packaging for the Positively Ageless line of Aveeno, which has seen double digit growth in its sales since J&J bought it in 1999, was converted to high-density polyethylene bottles with 30 percent post-consumer recycled content and trays with 100 percent recycled PET. “It’s a good example of how you combine superior functionality with superior design and get a product that’s really influencing the marketplace,” Goggins says. J&J also switched the source of its paperboard for Band-Aid boxes to certified renewable forests, which the company estimates saved 1.8 million old-growth trees in 2006.

“I’ve been lucky to inherit some of the best-loved brands in the world,” says Goggins. “I want more people to know these brands, and I want to leave these brands as strong as, or stronger, than they were when I inherited them.” In her seven years as worldwide chairman, Goggins has not only renewed the company’s focus on growth, but she’s worked to develop the company’s leadership. An example is her involvement with the Women’s Leadership Initiative, which was created to support leadership development of the firm’s female employees.

Goggins says that it is important for leaders to have a clear point of view, one that she is not afraid to express and use for decision making. “Things are seldom clear cut,” she adds. “It’s the judgment and adaptability one needs to fill in an ambiguous work environment or where you don’t have perfect data.” Goggins also holds listening as an important skill.

“One of the hallmarks of a good leader is knowing when to be a leader and when to be a follower,” she points out. “I’m a trustee of New Jersey Nature Conservancy and there are lots of people on that board who are more knowledgeable than I am… In those situations the best thing I can do as a leader is follow and bring any skills that I have to bear as needed.”

Posted July 2008
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