April 12th, 2012
From Conrad Person, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson
Head Start and Johnson & Johnson both seem at home in a single sentence. Both names evoke images of children and both organizations have the protection and nurturing of children at the core of their separate heritages. But where does UCLA Anderson School of Management fit into the picture? Let’s face it, we usually think of MBA programs as calculating, strategic, and a little cold.
At least that’s where I was mentally when I began my Head Start journey back in 1992. I had accepted a temporary assignment in Corporate Contributions with the goal of doubling the size of the fledgling Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program at UCLA Anderson. I understood the children needed teachers, nutritious food, and safe transport but I had not considered that these things entail human resources management, procurement, logistics and well-defined policies and procedures. I quickly learned that Head Start Programs also serve as advocates for children and families and need strong communications and public relations to ensure adequate funding and community support.
In other words, I learned that running a Head Start program, sometimes serving thousands of America’s most disadvantaged families, is as much a management challenge as it is a social service challenge.