Top Woman Leader In Medical Devices: J&J’s Ashley McEvoy (An Exclusive Interview)

Johnson & Johnson’s Ashley McEvoy Is Dedicated to Ensuring the Wellbeing of Customers, Patients, Employees, and Communities

Ashley McEvoy was named the top woman leader of the medical device industry in 2021 by The Healthcare Technology Report. As Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J’s) Executive Vice President and Worldwide Chairman of Medical Devices, she and her team are reimagining the future of health today by creating meaningful innovation that reduces variability to improve patient outcomes at a lower cost, prioritizing and modernizing health, and promoting health equity to enrich people’s lives around the world. McEvoy shares with us her sources of inspiration, leadership practices, and strategic insights as J&J continues to lead the industry in bringing transformative medical device products to market.

1. What has been your source/s of motivation to achieve in your career and/or in the healthcare and medical devices field?

I draw inspiration from a variety of sources – whether it’s spending quality time with my family, collaborating with J&J colleagues to deliver value, visiting hospitals and patients to see how they benefit from our products and solutions, or advocating for racial and social justice inside and outside of J&J. However, at my core, I am always inspired and motivated when I am laser focused on contributing to the wellbeing of people – physically, mentally and spiritually. I want to do everything I can to ensure that our customers, patients, employees, and our communities are not only surviving, but actually thriving. It’s this motivation that fuels my passion and our medtech mission which is to save lives and ignite all that is possible in every “body” by elevating the standard of care and delivering innovative patient-care solutions for life.

2. Can you tell us about the experiences you had that helped shape your leadership style?

From a professional standpoint, I am so fortunate to have had mentors and managers throughout my career that believed in me, even more than I did myself at certain times. The level of engagement, guidance and sponsorship they provided to help propel me through each phase of my career as I overcame challenges, learned from mistakes and evolved my capabilities, has been extremely valuable and evident in my leadership. Additionally, from a personal perspective, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to know, watch, access and learn from my Mother and Father who taught me the values that I still hold sacred today, which are to be an honest, hardworking and fair person who lives in service of others. They also encouraged me to not just manage, but to lead and create. Then, I combine this with my Mother-in-law’s influence – she is the consummate optimist and always reminds me that keeping the faith enables me to shine as brightly as I can and inspire the same in others. This level of care and commitment to me has really defined my leadership style.

Also, as a mother of five, everyone in our family has to have clarity on roles. It is very similar in business where I expect and empower my teams to lead with purpose. Leading with purpose and exemplifying servant leadership really galvanizes teams around a common vision.

3. Can you provide our audience with a brief overview on the business lines you manage at J&J?

Our Johnson & Johnson medtech business has been around just about as long as Johnson & Johnson – building on more than a century of expertise, where we first pioneered sterilization in the operating room. We are continuing this legacy today as we forge and innovate to deliver healthcare solutions that put the future of healthcare within reach of people everywhere. Our key business focus areas include: Orthopaedics, Surgery, Cardiovascular, Stroke and Specialty Solutions and Eye Health.

We are the second largest med tech company in the industry, the largest orthopaedics company in the world, the world's leading trauma company and a world leader in surgery.

Our J&J medtech team is comprised of employees residing in every region of the world and working across our Ethicon, DePuy Synthes, Biosense Webster and Johnson & Johnson Vision businesses. Additionally, we touch the lives of 278M patients each year and we have 11 business franchises, each with more than $1B in sales annually.

4. How do you get the most out of your people?

Plain and simple, meeting them where they are and helping, supporting, inspiring and empowering them to get where they need to be – not only for our business purposes, but also for their personal and professional aspirations. The J&J medtech leadership team and I discuss this all of the time, because it truly comes back to making sure that all of our colleagues know they are and feel supported – that they have the tools and resources they need to take care of themselves and their families, especially during these unprecedented times. I am a firm believer in prioritizing one’s health and well being, and as long as my global team is doing that, I’m confident they can bring their best selves to work.

5. Is there one piece of advice you could give to the upcoming generation of aspiring women leaders?

As a mother, leader and mentor, I am committed to helping pave the way for dynamic and talented women. And I want to reinforce that having a career and a family are not mutually exclusive – you just need to strike a balance that works for you.

I would also emphasize that there are no limits to what you can do, where you can go and how you can get there; you represent the new generation of trail blazers.
As Mae Jemison, a doctor, engineer, NASA astronaut AND the first African-American woman to travel in space said: “The future never just happened. It was created.”
Use your imagination, innovation and ambition to create the future today.

6. What was the toughest professional challenge you have faced and how did you manage through it?

I have to say that 2020 presented me with my toughest professional challenge to date. We can all agree that last year was an extraordinary and historic year from a global health, racial and social justice, and economic perspective. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and disruptive impact on our Company, communities, friends and families, and each of us individually. However, in the face of last year’s challenges, where the COVID-19 pandemic caused many individuals to delay healthcare treatment – from routine exams to important elective surgeries to emergency room visits – we re ignited a customer building and patient-centric strategy that adapted and prioritized customer needs, maintained quality product reliability, and accelerated innovation.

One of the things we learned early on in the pandemic was that COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, were presenting with heart arrhythmias post-treatment, so we moved quickly to connect electrophysiologists on the ground in Wuhan with electrophysiologists in Europe and the United States to help provide support and expertise. That kind of critical early intervention work also led us to launch My Health Can't Wait, an educational initiative and online resource to help support patients and healthcare providers during the pandemic. Our teams also partnered with Advances in Surgery to provide training for COVID-19 care, reaching more than six million healthcare professionals since the beginning of the pandemic.

This year we’re continuing to strengthen end-to-end execution to meet the rapidly evolving needs of our customers and patients, leveraging the best science and technology to create innovation, and building leading-edge capabilities to position us for continued success over the long-term. And, our global teams continue to embody a winning spirit every day, which is a testament to the power of the resiliency and execution that can be seen through the anticipated rebound this year across our J&J medtech business.