Leisa: Hello, I’m Leisa Holland Nelson and welcome to another edition of Women Mean Business, where we’re going to take you up close and personal with extraordinary women doing extraordinary things. My guest today is Susan Can, Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships and Equity at Johnson & Johnson. A total mouthful Susan, welcome to Women Mean Business.
Susan: Thank you Lisa, it’s wonderful to be here with you.
Leisa: What a job you must have, tell me about it.
Susan: It’s a privilege actually, the job I have. So Corporate Equity really is the brand of Johnson & Johnson and why Partnership is part of the title is because really just about anything that we do is working with others; it’s through partnership. You can’t accomplish a lot on your own so those 2 pieces come together in my work every day.
Leisa: So tell me what a day is like for you.
Susan: Well you probably hear this a lot Leisa, every day is different and that’s honestly true, but we’re a brand group but it’s a little bit different maybe than what many of your viewers think about with the corporate marketing function in that we’re so connected to the purpose of Johnson & Johnson. Going back 130 years where we’re really about how do we help advance health for humanity?
That’s what our businesses do, that’s what our philanthropy group does, that’s what our global public health group does; that’s just what J & J does. So it’s such a pleasure for me because the work I do is about working with large partners; very large partnerships with organizations like Save the Children and Operation Smile. We’re here with one of our big partners today, United Nations Foundation. So we build programming, we work together so we really try and leverage the breath of Johnson & Johnson to work with these partners.
Leisa: So in your day to day life in your marketing role are you doing commercials? Are you doing brand standards?
Susan: We are and that’s a very small part of what we do. 5, 8, 10 years ago that would’ve been the bulk of what you do in a marketing function; the world has really changed quite a bit. Number one there’s nothing we do that isn’t mobile and digital and social first, always. So I do spend a lot of my time in our digital work, I lead a lot of that. But it’s really where is the market today and people do expect things of companies really of purpose and of impact beyond product. Well for us that’s dream because that’s really where we live. It’s in our DNA, it’s why we were founded, how we were founded and what drives us.
We honestly believe that health is at the heart of human progress. So when you have that as a purpose and you have this breadth of a company really what we do in terms of engaging with our stakeholders, really using our voice and our scale to do good because that’s who we are, that really drives the work we do. So if you see advertising from us and things it’s typically tied to really substantive work that we’re doing. So really the world’s changed and we’re changing with it.
Leisa: Well I appreciate that. I know you’ve been with Johnson & Johnson for a while, tell us about your career track; what it’s been like.
Susan: So I’ve been with Johnson & Johnson 17 years now so I have probably a little bit different path than a typical marketer sitting in your chair might. My undergraduate degree is in nursing so I was a pediatric oncology nurse and then I went to graduate school and I’ve been on the business side of things ever since. It’s been a joy for me quite frankly to come to a company like Johnson & Johnson.
I’ve gotten to really marry being someone who likes – I’m a competitor, I like to drive business and I do believe that the products that I’ve had the responsibility for and things I work with are better for patients. So that really suits me as a nurse and as someone who believes in healthcare and now getting to work with these large partners and being able to use the scale of Johnson & Johnson to help to amplify causes and make a change in the world is just a – it might sound silly but it feels like a dream to me sometimes.
Leisa: I’m just listening and I feel like you’re living a dream, it sounds absolutely wonderful. Tell me what you’d tell someone else who wanted to achieve this sort of success. What was your secret sauce?
Susan: I think a lot of it is I’m a risk-taker by design. I came to a fairly young company within Johnson & Johnson when I came to J & J and I really had the opportunity to move into adjacent spaces as it were many times; to say well I figured this one out, what’s next? And that’s just me and what drives me. And I’ve been fortunate to work for leaders and work for a company that supports that and makes those opportunities available. So I think for me that’s how I’ve been able to grow as a leader, as a marketer and as just somebody within the company is to get to try new things, to learn from failures – hopefully fail fast – but then keep building and growing. So I think that’s at least been a lot of the secret sauce.
Leisa: Well thank you so much, appreciate you being here.
Susan: My pleasure Leisa.
Leisa: There you have it, another extraordinary woman doing extraordinary things. I’m Leisa Holland Nelson, the Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Astoundz; your one search, one click, one company for all things interactive; website search engine optimization and social media. You can find me at Astoundz.com or follow me on Twitter @LHNelson. We’ll be back again next week with another edition of Women Mean Business.
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