The HMG Global Viewpoint with Jim Swanson, EVP and Chief Information Officer, Johnson & Johnson: How Employee Upskilling is Key to Transforming Healthcare

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By Hunter Muller, Founder and CEO, HMG Strategy

I had a fascinating HMG Global Viewpoint interview on May 3 with Jim Swanson, the EVP and Chief Information Officer at Johnson & Johnson. Jim has had an amazing career as the CIO at J&J, Bayer Crop Science, and Monsanto. I’ve always been impressed with how thoughtful Jim is as a leader along with his team-building skills and focus on diversity and inclusion.

Our wide-ranging discussion touched on everything from Jim’s own leadership style to how he tracks the current – and required skillsets – across his Technology team.

This is actually Jim’s second stint at Johnson & Johnson – he was also with the company from 1996 to 2005 as Vice President IT – J&J Pharmaceutical, R&D. As Jim shared during our discussion, his career trajectory has been influenced by his passion for blending science and technology for mission-based organizations.

“My passion is putting together science and technology in mission-based companies that I care about,” Jim shared. Mission-based companies that Jim has worked with include J&J, Merck, Monsanto, and Bayer, and he has carried that passion into his current role at J&J where he rejoined in October 2019.

“You get to learn how to apply technologies to be really transformative in really important industries,” Jim shared. “When I returned to J&J, I was fortunate to have come back and be the CIO for this wonderful company whose mission is to transform healthcare. You can’t do transformation without amazing science, without amazing talent and without amazing technology. I’ve been blessed and humbled to be with this great company.”

Jim also shared with us why it’s important for CIOs and business technology leaders to have a global viewpoint. “Innovation doesn’t just happen in the East Coast of the U.S.,” Jim explained. “It’s happening all over the world – on the West Coast, in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and other parts of the world. And you can learn and take those insights and bring them into the core of what you’re doing globally.”

“Another reason for having a global viewpoint, especially for a company like J&J, is that we service millions of patients around the world,” Jim continued. “We need to represent them in everything we do, including having the diversity across our organization that represents those patient populations,” he said. “We have to look at the world from a very broad lens. If you see the patients that we’re supporting, the successes that we’ve had, and where there are opportunities for improvement, the one standard across all of this is that technology has played a critical role in all those aspects along with amazing science and amazing talent.”

As Jim and I dug deeper into the impact that upskilling can have on transforming healthcare, he revealed what I think is a very interesting and innovative approach to identifying the skillsets that J&J has and where additional help is needed.

Jim and his team utilize a “heat map” of needed IT skills, such as intelligent automation and analytics, to help identify where additional help is needed and address those needs. “This keeps me energized because I’m constantly learning – I love to learn, we’re a learning company, we hire learners,” he added.

I truly enjoy every chance I get to speak with Jim because he is a progressive leader — he is forward-thinking, open-minded, team-oriented, and a lifelong learner.

To view the full interview with Jim, click here.

And be sure to stay tuned for our next HMG Global Viewpoint where I interview the world’s foremost CIOs and business technology leaders on the top leadership, technology, and cultural trends that are shaping the modern enterprise.

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