J&J’s Leisha Daly: ‘The digital revolution is impacting many areas of our business’

23 Jun 2020

Leisha Daly. Image: Johnson & Johnson

Leisha Daly of Johnson & Johnson discusses opportunities for innovation, the search for new talent, and figuring out her own career path.

Since 2018, Leisha Daly has been senior director for government affairs and policy for the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) EMEA supply chain and for J&J’s Ireland campus. For the previous 10 years, she was country director of Janssen, the pharmaceutical company of J&J.

Daly started her 20-year career at J&J as head of medical affairs at Janssen and has held several senior positions in medical, sales and marketing management. She also served as president of the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association from 2014 to 2016.

She was recognised as one of the 25 most powerful businesswomen in Ireland by the Women’s Executive Network in 2016, and was recognised by the IMI with a Life Fellowship Award in 2018 for her contribution to Irish management.

‘I have learned that our biggest obstacle in our careers can often be ourselves’

Describe your role and what you do.

I am responsible for engagement with the Johnson & Johnson global supply chain functional leadership to identify risks and opportunities to develop and oversee the execution of critical strategies that involve government to maximise the value of Johnson & Johnson in EMEA.

I act as as a company spokesperson to Irish authorities, representing the Johnson & Johnson family of companies in Ireland in the political and policy arena in Ireland and beyond. My role is key in facilitating connections between internal and external stakeholders and building collaborative, interactive relationships with government departments, agencies and industry trade associations.

How do you prioritise and organise your working life?

Establishing clear, measurable goals and objectives at the start of the year is critical. This ensures that I continuously focus on key priorities.

On that note, I travel a lot and strive to attend only those meetings and conferences that are aligned to my key objectives. Having excellent administrative support is also essential, even in our current DIY world.

What are the biggest challenges facing your sector and how are you tackling them?

Attracting key talent is never easy. The Johnson & Johnson family of companies in Ireland have an excellent graduate programme and that helps with this challenge.

Environmental sustainability is on everyone’s agenda currently, particularly across the EU. To that point, we have a number of excellent initiatives across energy efficiency and plastics recycling.

What are the key sector opportunities you’re capitalising on?

The digital revolution is impacting many areas of our business, creating great opportunities for innovation. We have interesting programmes in 3D printing and robotics that are industry-leading. This creates great career opportunities for our younger generation colleagues.

What set you on the road to where you are now?

I was fortunate enough to have parents with a great interest in nature and an early teacher who initiated a great curiosity in science. That led me to an initial career in clinical research, followed by a fascinating number of years working in the pharmaceutical industry.

My more recent step into the government affairs function evolved from a belief that there should be stronger collaboration and partnerships between the healthcare industry and governments in order to deliver the best outcomes for patients.

What was your biggest mistake and what did you learn from it?

Lack of belief in myself and my ability to make an impact. I have learned that our biggest obstacle in our careers can often be ourselves; an unfortunate trait that seems to impact more women than men.

Having acknowledged and addressed this issue, I now do everything I can to mentor others with similar traits.

How do you get the best out of your team?

Give them space but ensure they know that you are always there for any queries or challenges they might face. Also, it is important that they realise that whilst they have space to implement their goals and objectives as they see fit, they are also fully accountable if things go wrong.

Instilling the importance of teamwork is also important, as is ensuring that everyone feels appropriately rewarded and has fun along the way.

Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector?

We do have a shortage of women studying STEM courses and subsequently taking up a career in STEM.

The Johnson & Johnson family of companies in Ireland has a number of programmes to address this, including mentoring, providing students with female role models, site visits and internships. However, we do need to work across industry and with governments in order to create the dynamic change that is needed.

Did you ever have a mentor or someone who was pivotal in your career?

I have had several coaches and, more importantly, I have had many managers that believed in me.

One person who was pivotal in my career was Prof John Bonnar who encouraged me to gain extra qualifications in my early days of clinical research. This has made a huge difference to the trajectory of my career, and I continue to be grateful to him.

More recently, other mangers supported me as I changed direction, allowing me have a diverse career within one organisation.

What books have you read that you would recommend?

Emotional Agility by Susan David and Thrive by Arianna Huffington.

What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?

Great colleagues that I can bounce ideas off and complain to, in equal proportions.

A very supportive husband and family who pick up the pieces and help me on an ongoing basis.

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