3. Christine Poon
Worldwide Chairman, Pharmaceuticals Group
Johnson & Johnson
New Brunswick, NJ
You might think of baby bottoms when you think of Johnson & Johnson. Christine Poon is out to change that. Since November of 2000 she has been leading J&J's drive to grow its global pharmaceuticals group to the level of giants like Merck, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis. In the past several years J&J has aggressively acquired five pharmaceutical companies and now gets about 47% of its $40 billion annual sales from Tylenol, Motrin and a long list of less famous medicines. Today the pharmaceuticals group is the largest and fastest-growing part of the J&J empire. By comparison, its more famous consumer products division accounts for only 9% and its medical devices group for 36%.
Poon was recruited because during 15 years at Bristol-Myers-Squibb she had proven to be a demanding leader who got results without alienating underlings. She headed up BMS's international medicine division from 1998 to 2000 and its medical equipment division in 1997-98. In 2003 her power and impact at J&J made her 27th on Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful women in American business.
Christine Poon grew up in Cincinnati. She assumed she would become a doctor like her father and determinedly overcame an admitted lack of aptitude for math and the sciences to graduate a year early from Northwestern University with a degree in biology. She worked briefly as a lab technician at USC before returning for a masters in biology and biochemistry from St. Louis University. She worked for a few years as a chemist, but the lure of fatter paychecks prompted her to jump to the business side at New England Nuclear. She also managed to work in an MBA from Boston University.
During his decade as Solectron's CEO Koichi Nishimura led the company to become the world's largest, most profitable provider of electronics manufacturing services. His winning strategy was to implement an industry-leading feedback system that lets employees respond quickly to customer needs and market conditions. During his tenure as CEO, Solectron's contract manufacturing clientele came to include elite brands like IBM, Cisco, Dell Computers, Nortel Networks, Lucent Technologies, Hewlett-Package, Sun Microsystems and Sony.
For his contribution to advancing manufacturing practices, Nishimura has been recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Solectron was twice awarded the Federal Government's Malcom Baldridge Award for manufacturing quality.
Nishimura joined Solectron in 1988 when it was a regional company with one factory, 1,500 employees and $93 million in annual sales. He was named president in 1990 and CEO in 1992. Today the company has over $12 billion in annual sales and 72,000 employees in 150 factories around the world. He had spent the preceding 23 years at IBM where he held senior management positions in the disk file design, technology and manufacturing divisions.
Koichi Nishimura was born August 31, 1939 in Pasadena. His was among the Japanese American families sent to the Manzanar internment camp.
“You might think of baby bottoms when you think of Johnson & Johnson. Christine Poon is out to change that.”