Stefanie Dhanda recently joined the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Center in Boston as Senior Director, Consumer Scientific Innovation. Hear from Stefanie below about the Consumer sector's efforts to grow and maintain a portfolio of innovative partnerships, collaborations and benefits.
1. What path led you to Johnson & Johnson Innovation?
After spending 20+ years in investment banking, I encountered a deal that catalyzed my interest in making a career shift. I facilitated a deal for a groundbreaking medical foods company that took a personal connection to the Phenylketonuria (PKU) disease, and identified an opportunity to help transform the lives of people living with PKU. After that experience, it was clear to me that I wanted to be at the crossroads of consumer products and healthcare, ideally with early-stage companies looking to ramp up, and in October 2015, I started at Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
2. What are your specific focus areas within Johnson & Johnson consumer health?
I look at all opportunities across the 11 consumer need states, and am also specifically the communication liaison for oral care, compromised skin and therapeutic hair. Johnson & Johnson Innovation is extremely open to all consumer health areas - we want to tap into game-changing innovation, and my role is to ultimately assess the massive pipeline of consumer health opportunities to find ones that fit with Johnson & Johnson Innovation's consumer research priorities.
3. What are some of the particular strengths that Johnson & Johnson Innovation offers entrepreneurs working in the consumer space?
The J&J Family of consumer companies is one of the largest and scientifically driven businesses in the world. Working through JJI, we co-create products and solutions grounded by deep consumer insights and backed by strong research. We seek important new technologies that can be accelerated to consumers through co-development with our internal scientific teams and introduced globally through world-class marketing, manufacturing, and regulatory capabilities.
4. How do you see the consumer health landscape evolving?
One major trend we're seeing is an increased tie between consumer health and technology or medical devices. Our region has a good mix of academic institutions, strong key opinion leaders and researchers, and we're fortunate that Boston alone has MIT, Harvard and 17 other great institutions working on fascinating projects. We're anticipating that the lines between consumer health and technology will continue to blur, and that exciting, personalized consumer products will be the end result.
It's not just lotions or baby wipes anymore, for example, it's a device or a digital health platform like a health and wellness app that users can customize to truly meet their needs.
5. How is the Boston Innovation Center forging partnerships and collaborations with local companies?
At Johnson & Johnson Innovation, we've purposely designed our innovation model to be as open and flexible as possible. We are in three different sectors, and we bring a lot of value to a consumer company with regards to research & development, marketing, strategy and business. Our company model allows us tremendous insights across various global and consumer health areas.
6. How do you spend your time outside of the Innovation Center?
I've been married for 16 years, and have a daughter who is almost 14, a son who is 12, and a rescue mutt from Alabama named Willow. I enjoy cooking, skiing and open water swimming at our vacation home in the Lakes Region of Maine. I have an ongoing dare with a neighbor to take a dip in the lake in Maine for any month where there is open water.