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Daily CSR

Daily CSR
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Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Historian Seeped In ‘A Long, Rich Heritage Of Innovation’


Johnson & Johnson has advanced in technology and innovation yet maintains its old values.

Dailycsr.com – 23 August 2019 – Margaret Gurowitz earned her “bachelor’s degree in history” and was looking for a job when the “dean of her school”, Douglass College, rang up to say:
“Someone from Johnson & Johnson just called and said, ‘Send me the best history student you have’. If you’re interested, I won’t recommend anyone else.”
Gurowitz had bagged academic awards for history and hoped to join master's program. As Stephanie Wood informs:
“The gig she (Gurowitz) was being recommended for—and ultimately got—was helping the company's Chief Communication Officer at the time research his biography of Robert Wood Johnson, the company’s CEO from 1932 to 1963”.
It is with this project that Gurowitz started on her “long career at Johnson & Johnson”, while, Wood added:
“She (Gurowitz) held a number of positions—from Corporate Television Producer to Manager of Corporate Communications—before landing the title she holds today: Chief Historian, a role she's had since 2013”.
Gurowitz has now spent 35 years with Johnson & Johnson and talking about her responsibility, she said:
“It’s not common for a company to have a historian, but Johnson & Johnson recognized the power of our over 130-year history of innovation, support for women and commitment to Gurowitz’s and community service, not to mention our legacy of advancing human health. My role as Chief Historian is part of corporate communications, and it’s a great way to talk about yourself as an organization and to anchor what we’re doing in the present and the future.
With the bloom of social media Gurowitz began a blog in 2006 titled “Kilmer House, after the company’s first Scientific Director, Frederick Barnett Kilmer”. The latter was instrumental in starting an archive for preserving things “pertained to Johnson & Johnson after he joined the company in 1889”. The collection now has some “amazing items” such as “the first gauze produced by the cotton mill the company opened in 1901, letters and photographs from Johnson & Johnson employees who served during World War I, and Kilmer’s own analytical balance that he used in the lab”.
At present, Gurowitz oversees “Johnson & Johnson’s online museum”, called “Our Story” which was launched in the year of 2017 as well as the “Our Story at the Powerhouse, an interactive museum here at headquarters”.
Describing a typical day at work, Gurowitz added:
“Often, I'm conducting research in the company archives. I do a lot of writing, too, because I am responsible for refreshing the content of our interactive multimedia exhibits in the Powerhouse and online.
“I also give tours for employees and people outside the company, including school groups. I always tell the story of how the company was founded to make surgery sterile and survivable for patients, because it expresses so many things that continue to guide Johnson & Johnson today: innovation, a commitment to patients and the medical profession, and a focus on the future. I also talk about the early pioneering women at Johnson & Johnson who led manufacturing departments more than a century ago, and about the company’s multi-language advertising in the U.S. in the 1910s.
“Many times I learn something new from employees, retirees or visitors who had parents, grandparents or great-grandparents who worked at Johnson & Johnson. For instance, I heard the story of an employee who started working here during the Great Depression and was able to get dental care he needed on his first day on the job, thanks to the company's legacy of care for employees”.
Gurowitz passion lies with tracing “the history of women in STEM2D fields at Johnson & Johnson” which dates back to 1908 while women employees were part of Johnson & Johnson since the year of 1886. Her work also extends in creating corporate archives wherein stories from employees are kept for passing on to future generations.
In Gurowitz’s words:
“Through this program and my work overall, I’ve come to understand how connected the past and present are at Johnson & Johnson, how our heritage informs what we do today and how consistent the company’s values have always been”.