November 11th, 2013

Johnson & Johnson: Our Veterans’ Stories

Approximately 128,000 employees make up the backbone of who and what we do at the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.  Each employee brings a unique life experience to his or her role at our organization.  In honor of Veterans Day, a few of our employees, who also served in the U.S. Armed Forces, agreed to share their experiences.

Sean T. Cavanaugh
Senior Analyst – Reporting, Janssen
U.S. Army; Field Artillery; Yusufiyah, Iraq (OIF 2005-2006)


Military Career: My military career (Active Duty and National Guard) spanned more than eight years. The most significant portion of this service was as a Fire Support Officer and Executive Officer for a 131-Soldier Infantry company in the 101st Airborne Division, including a combat deployment to Iraq.

Tell us about your experience in the military and how you think it has influenced your approach to the business world:  Although it would be too lengthy to go into every experience, I can synthesize many that shaped me and what I do today into a general philosophy—try to innovate beyond the status quo and challenge myself (and my colleagues) to consider the less trodden path.   Veterans understand more than most that we must be our best selves in order to succeed, no matter the sector, industry, or business.   In addition, we have a wealth of leadership experiences and abilities to call upon and leverage in the business sector.  I believe Johnson & Johnson serves as one of the leading beacons for veterans to capitalize on the innate similarities between the military and business worlds. And, most essentially, we maintain Our Credo (like the Army Values) as an established set of beliefs and principles that guide our actions and the way we lead.

Darren DeLuca,
Senior Sourcing Specialist, Johnson & Johnson Talent Acquisition
Sergeant US Army- Reconnaissance Specialist- Samarra, Ash Sharqat, Bayji, Tarmiyah – (OIF 2004-2005)

darren-tie2Military Career: I enlisted after college, influenced largely by the events of 9/11.  I was sent to Germany and very soon after deployed to Kosovo as part of operation Joint Guardian (April-November 2002).  In February 2004, I deployed to Iraq and spent a year in various places north of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle.

Tell us about your experience in the military and how you think it has influenced your approach to the business world:  
I learned very quickly as a military leader that people come from different types of backgrounds, levels of education, economic situations, etc.  It is absolutely necessary to know your audience in order to effectively lead them.   I believe veterans are the ultimate team players, used to working with the most diverse teams.  Veterans are extremely adaptable to change and thrive in situations of ambiguity.

Dennis McKernan,
Operations, McNeil Consumer Healthcare
Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Commander- Task Force Phoenix
(3-10 General Support Aviation Battalion) (OEF 2010-2011)

Homecoming OEF 2011

Military Career:  As a U.S. Army Aviator for 21 years, I was blessed to work with some of the most selfless, impressive and inspiring people that I have ever known. I was able to see places and do things that provided a lifetime of memories. I started my career as an attack helicopter platoon leader in Korea and culminated as an aviation task force commander in Afghanistan.

Tell us about your experience in the military and how you think it has influenced your approach to the business world:  As a young officer, I was suddenly placed in command of a helicopter company that was deploying for an exercise to North Carolina from New York State the very next day. That was the first of countless situations where I had no idea how to resolve the issues we faced but through collaboration with the teams, we always succeeded. When faced with challenging situations, I will always try to gain as many inputs as time will allow from the right people prior to making a decision.  I believe that there is great value in people who know how to ‘figure it out’ when faced with ambiguous challenges, and to me, that is what veterans bring to the table.

Mike Morand
Senior Analyst, Retail Customer Logistics
US Air Force, Logistics Readiness, Bagram & Logar, Afghanistan (OEF 2009-2010)

M-Morand-Official-croppedMilitary Career: I decided to join the military after 9/11.  I was a junior in high school without much idea of what I wanted to do professionally, but I knew that the military was in my future.  I elected to become a Logistics Officer for the opportunity to lead large teams, something I grew an affinity for in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Tell us about your experience in the military and how you think it has influenced your approach to the business world:  I learned to work in ultra-high tempo settings without perfect information.  Small delays in getting troops and equipment into the country meant that troops who had been out in the field for longer than intended would need to stay longer, which was a lot to ask of someone who had just spent the better part of the last year in harm’s way and looking forward to going home.  In spite of the hours and the stress, I found my deployment to be a very rewarding experience that expanded my professional capacity simply by being in the middle of complex situations in an austere environment.

When I made the decision to separate from the military, I looked for qualities in companies that first attracted me to the military.  Johnson & Johnson’s Credo values seemed to echo the Air Force core values of ‘Integrity First,’ ‘Service before Self,’ and ‘Excellence in All We Do.’

In the military, any success I had was a credit to the people I served alongside and in J&J I found this to be every bit as true.  I feel a profound sense of purpose here at Johnson & Johnson and am grateful for the personal and professional foundation the military gave me to build upon.

Eric Suddarth
MD&D (Medical Devices & Diagnostics) Procurement
US Army, Field Artillery, Mahmudiyah & Baghdad, Iraq (OIF 2008-09)

Eric's homecoming

Military Career: Upon graduation from West Point, I was commissioned as a Field Artillery Officer in the United States Army.  I served in myriad positions and leadership roles, which culminated in a one year combat tour to Iraq (Sep 2008-Sep 2009).  I, along with two of my non-commissioned officers, earned a Bronze Star Medal for this tour.

Tell us about your experience in the military and how you think it has influenced your approach to the business world:  Military personnel train repeatedly to prepare for the most difficult and nearly unimaginable situations. I experienced that type of situation and found that a trained leadership instinct kicked in and allowed for a surprising calmness and systematic approach to tackle one issue at a time.  I believe that veterans bring a unique diversity of experiences and perspective to an organization, but most importantly, veterans bring leadership and core values to an organization.  As a General, Robert Wood Johnson understood and internalized military values, which helped guide him to craft the document that continues to guide decisions (big and small) at J&J today – Our Credo.

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