In January 2022, Joaquin Duato became Johnson & Johnson’s new Chief Executive Officer. It’s a role that builds on his 33-year career at the company, working across all business sectors and in multiple countries around the globe.
As the world’s most broadly based healthcare company, Johnson & Johnson has a 136-year legacy of innovating transformational health solutions — and Duato is eager to build on it, leveraging the unique perspective he’s gleaned from his long tenure with the company.
To help introduce the new CEO, we have rounded up five things to know about Duato, including the fact that he is just the latest in a long line of family members with a passion for working in healthcare.
1. He is Johnson & Johnson’s eighth CEO — and the first to hold dual citizenship.
Duato first joined Johnson & Johnson in 1989, working for the pharmaceutical business in his native Spain, where he holds citizenship. In 2015, he also became a citizen of the United States.
Over the past 33 years he has held leadership positions in nearly every division of Johnson & Johnson, including most recently overseeing the Global Supply Chain, Technology and Health & Wellness teams, as well as providing strategic direction for the Consumer Health and Pharmaceuticals sectors.
Thanks in part to these rich and varied experiences at Johnson & Johnson, Duato is fluent in several languages, including English and Italian. He believes that this has been an asset to him as a leader because his approach to business is shaped by the idea that our points of difference are often our greatest strengths.
So whenever he’s advising a colleague or a team, Duato makes it a priority to seek diverse perspectives, which he understands are necessary for balanced decision-making and best representing the healthcare needs of people around the world.
2. He has a deep passion for the power and promise of technology.
In 2019, Duato served as interim Chief Information Officer — an experience that ignited his passion for leveraging intelligent automation and data science to advance and transform healthcare.
To that end, he does not think one has to be a scientist to learn from and use data to make informed decisions. He encourages employees across the organization to be tech bilingual — combining their fluency in science, biology or business with fluency in technology — to accelerate and simplify healthcare innovation.
Now, as CEO, Duato plans to ensure that technology is an integral component of all work being done across Johnson & Johnson. Already, teams in supply chain are using cutting-edge risk-simulation technology to help speed up deliveries, and R&D teams are harnessing advances in computing and machine learning to analyze large data stacks faster and make informed decisions.
An example of this is a smart memory diagnostic tool that the pharmaceutical team at Janssen is developing. It uses a tablet or smartphone to detect subtle changes in the brain that may indicate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Using technology in this way could transform diagnosis and treatment of this devastating neurological disease.
3. Healthcare is woven into the fabric of his DNA.
Duato comes from a long line of family members who’ve nurtured a deep passion for the field of healthcare.
His mother was a nurse, his grandmother a pharmacist and his grandfather a pediatrician — and all of them taught Duato that the most important part of healthcare is care.
“When your family works in healthcare, you witness the thrilling and tireless moments that healthcare demands,” Duato says. “There are moments of great reward and also moments of great sadness. This is why I believe society has a responsibility to care for those who care for us — this includes the mental and emotional well-being of frontline healthcare workers.”
4. Mentorship is another form of care he holds close to his heart.
Throughout his career, Duato has credited mentors for his development, especially those who helped ease his transition when he moved to the U.S. from Spain. With their support, he learned to navigate working in a new culture and acclimated his young family to living in a new country.
Since then, he has done his part to pay it forward, helping others unlock their potential, gain confidence and pursue new career opportunities.
For almost a decade, he also served as the executive sponsor of the African Ancestry Leadership Council, an employee resource group at Johnson & Johnson that helps provide mentorship and professional development opportunities. It’s an experience that he says has helped him better understand the experience of Black employees in the workplace.
His mentorship efforts were recognized in 2017, when Duato was named an Honorable Mentor by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, which recognizes an individual who exemplifies long-term advocacy for current and future women leaders.
“Joaquin Duato has a phenomenal track record of developing and promoting female leaders, and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association is extremely proud to honor him as our 2017 Honorable Mentor,” said Laurie Cooke, the organization’s CEO at the time. “Joaquin has been a champion of diversity and inclusion throughout his global career.”
As CEO, he is committed to creating an even more inclusive and empowered work environment at Johnson & Johnson. For Duato, supporting employees is not only a business imperative, but it’s essential to the task of changing the trajectory of health for humanity.
5. Duato’s vision for the company is rooted in long-term thinking.
Starting in 2009, Duato worked to transform the pharmaceutical business for growth over the long term. He did this by refocusing the business on its strengths, with the opportunity to create transformational medical innovations to help patients and communities in greatest need.
In partnership with the Chief Scientific Officer, Duato prioritized the business strategy and R&D efforts around six areas of focus: cardiovascular and metabolism, immunology, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, oncology and pulmonary hypertension.
Over time, these decisions proved powerful, with more than 20 new medicines approved since then, which contributed to five consecutive years of growth, including two years as the fastest-growing pharmaceutical company in the world.
Looking back, Duato sees significant parallels to his new chapter as CEO.
“We created a clear set of steps to reinvent the business and we’re guided by our North Star: saving and improving patient lives,” he says. “Today, when it comes to the vision for Johnson & Johnson, I’m once again looking 25 years out, steering toward a horizon where we have achieved transformational medical innovations.”