HR Leaders Interview Series: Johnson & Johnson

Hosted by: Johnson & Johnson

For most of us around the world, thus far 2020 has been a year like no other. From a personal perspective, we have been living in lock-down, homeschooling our children between video conferences, shielding the vulnerable and learning to adapt to a newly socially distanced society. From a professional perspective, many of us have been in crisis management mode, reacting to localised restrictions being forced upon us, remobilising our workforces, and trying to plan for an unforeseeable future.

As the East moves more quickly towards a ‘new (and hopefully better) normal’, ChapmanCG’s Founder, Matthew Chapman caught up with Lisa Tay, APAC Head of HR at Johnson & Johnson to discuss how to successfully lead a function through the uncertainty of Covid-19, as well as their ‘return to business’ phase.

As we all start to focus on rebuilding, we wanted to share our key takeaways from the interview with Lisa.

Keeping Calm and Leading from the Front

As with any crisis, keeping calm is what makes a good leader, particularly a good HR leader. In this time of uncertainty, there are no rules, there is no playbook – for many leaders this is an opportunity to forge a new path. As Lisa mentions in the video,

“even if situations are not calm, as a leader you have to be calm. It’s about inspiring others and giving confidence”

A pandemic of this magnitude has never been seen in our lifetimes and this is giving Asia the chance to be the first to discover the ‘new normal’. It is the perfect time to focus on the opportunities that can be made off the back of this situation. What will workplaces look like moving forward? How can workplaces be reimagined to suit the ‘people’?  It’s more than just overcoming the logistics of working from home. How do you keep your workforce motivated? How do you support your workers with families? How do you support people’s emotional and mental health and well-being? As Lisa mentions, to be successful – all levels of an organisation need to embrace change and be on the same page.

Leaning-in and Building-out

The age-old notion of ‘you can’t build something from nothing’ has never been truer. The ‘return to business/growth’ phase is an opportunity to instill not only new ways of working, but for HR to cement themselves as true people-people.

“[HR] not here to support the business, [we are] here to drive the people agenda”

Lisa highlights the notion of HR becoming the heart and soul of an organisation (which they should thrive to be with or without a global crisis). Even taking it one step further; how do you breathe life into the bottom line? Not just focusing on the numbers, but how is the ‘people element’ incorporated. This is another opportunity for HR to redefine or reintroduce your global corporate culture (depending on how established you were).

Every Day’s a School Day

Globally we are still stepping into the unknown every day, and whilst the East are ahead of the West, there is no doubt that we will all do things differently along the way. This is an opportunity to learn from our APAC friends and colleagues, the embrace the ‘new normal’ and breathe life back into the HR function.


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