After 20 years at J&J, the importance of time is clearer than ever
2021 marks a special anniversary for me – it is hard to believe, but it’s now been 20 years since I started working at J&J. 2001 was also the year that the iPod was released for the first time. I remember both events like they were yesterday.
This article originally appeared on Linkedin on February 4 2021.
When I think back, it’s clear why the two decades since have gone so quickly for me: there has just been so much happening. Working in six countries, across a number of different therapy areas and markets, being involved in programs around gender equality and diversity and inclusion, and collaborating more inspiring people and organizations than I can count – all of it means that time seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. Reflecting on my 20 year milestone got me thinking about the nature and importance of time. On how so much can change over time, often without you noticing, while elsewhere there are reassuring constants that remain the same year to year. And just as importantly, how much value time has, for each and every one of us.
The change we wish to see in the world
To the first point, what is remarkable to me when I look back at two decades of healthcare is the amount of positive change we have seen in the development of new therapies and standards of care. Earlier this week, for example, I saw a tweet from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) showing how advances in prevention, diagnosis and treatment have led to cancer death rates slowing down.
In my area of haematology, meanwhile, we have seen treatment class CAR-T go from practically science fiction to a tangible reality, where people with blood cancers such as multiple myeloma could have a therapy not only tailored for them, but made from their own cells. This shift from a ‘one size fits all’ treatment approach in blood cancers has been a truly exciting development that has taken time, but maybe not as much time as we might have expected if asked about it in 2001.
Yet no matter how much change we have seen, there are constants too – as there need to be. The J&J Credo underpins everything we do, and more specifically within Janssen Oncology, our responsibility to patients remains the same, no matter how much time passes.
The way we approach improving cancer care is based on foundational principles, such as carefully targeting disease areas where we can have the most meaningful impact, in order to bring about targeted transformations that change what a cancer diagnosis means to people. Sticking to these principles has allowed us to make significant advances in the management of haematological cancers. And our commitment to this ongoing transformation – and to the bold science and wide-ranging alliances that help us get there – are not going to be changing any time soon!
The power of time
This brings me to my second reflection, which is about just how valuable time is. Like most of us, there have been moments where I wished I had had more time, either at work or in my wider life. But for patients with diseases such as multiple myeloma, who can spend long periods in hospital receiving treatment, time is an even more precious commodity, and one that they deserve more of.
That’s why in my 20th year at J&J, I am looking forward to talking more about how we are targeting this important issue, and how by doing so we hope to transform the landscape further for the cancer community. We are striving to continue the incredible progress of the last two decades, to make the best use of the time we have and give more of it to those who need it most.
The power of time cannot be underestimated. Knowing this gives me and my colleagues in the Janssen Oncology team a clear purpose both now and in the years to come: to find innovative ways to give back more time to patients, whether it’s through helping them live longer, or by finding treatments that use up less of their time. They can then spend it doing the things that really matter to them.