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Ep. 66 How Johnson and Johnson values guides them from the past to the present with Margaret Gurowitz

How Johnson and Johnson values guides them from the past to the present.

I am so excited to be sharing the journey of an incredible story teller and story finder, Margaret Gurowitz – who is the Chief Historian at Johnson & Johnson.

She is also the curator of the exhibits in Johnson & Johnson Our Story The Power House, the companies museum. (You can find more information at www.ourstory.jnj.com.) 

Margaret has a unique job as the Chief Historian since she is responsible for bringing to life the heritage of Johnson  & Johnson for their employees as well as the public.

As the company historian, Margaret researches and tells stories to illustrate Johnson & Johnson’s heritage of innovation and caring from the past to the present. 

She has also created the Kilmer House blog  which shares J&J’s rich history.

I first met Margaret when I visited the Johnson & Johnson museum. Her unique way of bringing history to life really stood out to me and I am so excited to share all the incredible stories that Margaret has unearth during her research in the archives of Johnson & Johnson! 

Listen on to find out how Johnson & Johnson values guides them from the past to the present.

 

Listen Below:

In this Episode:

How did you advance from a researcher to now the Chief historian at Johnson and Johnson?

  • Margaret started working for Johnson & Johnson in 1988 as a researcher and has been with the company for her entire career.
  • She started the companies history blog called Kilmer House in order to share the unique stories and history of Johnson & Johnson – not just to the employees but also to the public.
  • Because of the interest in the stories from the company and public, Margaret’s job grew to now becoming the Chief Historian.
  • Margaret was part of restoring and creating an updated museum that houses the Johnson & Johnson artifacts and stories that has been a part of the companies history.
  • J&J created a new and interactive museum that took a lot of team work to provide the most comprehensive information on the history of the company.
  • You can find out more about the museum and the stories at Our Story.

Why is it important to share the history and heritage of Johnson & Johnson?

  • It shows the impact and the actions that the company has taken in order to continuously provide value and care to everyone around the world.
  • J&J has been a pioneer in giving women equal opportunity by hiring the first woman scientist and having hired more female employees than men when the company first began. 
  • The history will also show the incredible innovation that J&J has shown that has affected all of our daily lives – even today.

Can you expand more on how Johnson & Johnson has provided opportunities for women in the company?

  • When Johnson & Johnson was first founded in 1886 the company started with 14 employees.  Eight of those employees where women.
  • Historically the company has had a large number of women employees.
  • In 1908 J&J hired the first woman scientist decades before other companies would take a chance on doing the same.
  • The company actually recruited the first female scientist from a university which was unusual at the time since they were actively seeking women to hire.
  • At the same timeline, 8 out of 36 manufacturing departments were supervised by women.
  • Not only is Johnson & Johnson a pioneer in providing opportunities for women in the work place but also pioneers for the first mass produced sanitary products.
  • Johnson & Johnson also provides help for women in the community- not just health related but also programs to encourage young women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education.

What has been the most moving story that you have encountered during your research?

  • The most moving story that Margaret has encountered was finding out about the first woman scientist  Edith von K—- who ever worked for J&J.
  • Margaret wrote about the female scientist on the Kilmer House blog hoping one of her descendants would see the article and get in touch and it actually happened!

Can you tell us a story from the J&J history that would surprise many people?

  • J&J helped to create the first duct tape during WWII.
  • Margaret wrote about the duct tape on the blog and a reader wrote back stating that her great grandmother was the inventor of the duct tape and was able to prove it.
  • The idea came from the need to be more efficient and safer during the war.
  • No one wanted to listen to her idea, so she ended up writing to the President Roosevelt and he made her idea happen.
  • President Roosevelt asked J&J to create the first duct tape that helped to save lives during the war and is still being used today.

What has been your proudest moment during your projects as the Chief Historian for J&J?

  • The proudest moment has been to help revitalize and re-open the new Johnson & Johnson museum.
  • What was just an idea has become a reality with so much work and effort from many different people.

Having met so many people at J&J one of the things that I was really impressed by  was the dedication and passion that their employees have for the company. What makes J&J such a special company to work for?

  • J&J is a special company to work for because of the values they place on their employees and the work that they do that helps the public.
  • The company has an incredible legacy that makes their employees proud to be a part of such a innovative company that helps so many people.

Is there any question that you wished people asked you more of?

  • Margaret wished people would ask why the study of history is so important.
  • For organizations- their heritage can help show the values that continue to guide them from the past to the present.

What are you working on today, that really excites you?

  • Margaret is currently excited about working on collecting oral history about J&J.
  • Collecting oral history from family of past employees to current employees of J&J.

If our listeners what to know more about J&J’s history where can they find more information?


Follow Margaret and J&J history:

 

 

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