The Right Purpose

VP Jennifer De Camara talks about what inspires her to ensure that patients and healthcare professionals get the information they need about Johnson & Johnson’s life-saving products

Photo by Mark Krajnak

Undoubtedly, Jennifer De Camara loves what she does. In law school, when her mother told her to find a job she could love, De Camara shied away from the advice—she didn’t want to live and breathe her job. But now, as vice president of law with Johnson & Johnson’s US Pharmaceutical Strategic Customer Group, De Camara acknowledges the wisdom of her mother’s words.

“I do love my job,” she admits, laughing. “I’m inspired by it every day, and I think that’s really all you can ask for.”

According to De Camara, her position as VP of law at Johnson & Johnson is a perfect fit for her for two reasons. First, she says, is her lifelong fascination with science and her drive to transform that passion into a practical, immediately useful service. The second reason, De Camara explains, is that her own experiences in the healthcare system have instilled in her the importance of keeping one’s mind on “the right purpose” in the course of legal work.

“My experiences as a patient, the mother of a patient, and the daughter of a hospice nurse have all taught me to never lose sight of what I’m working on,” De Camara explains. “We’re trying to help people here at Johnson & Johnson. Those people just happen to be patients at the time, and we have to understand that they are going through what may be the most difficult time of their lives.”

Jennifer De Camara, Johnson & JohnsonPhoto by Mark Krajnak

De Camara says that both of those factors, her love for science and her personal healthcare experiences, impact her everyday work at Johnson & Johnson. She loves being a part of the medication development process and being able to watch as the company makes medicines that will help improve and save lives. At the same time, she has been able to leverage her background in biology, biochemistry, and biotechnology.

“One of the principles for me that has translated most strongly across both pathways, biology and the law, is the scientific method,” De Camara offers. “The scientific method calls for the development of a hypothesis and an experiment, and you draw conclusions based on your understanding of that experiment and its limitations. It’s very factual and scrupulous about what you know—and what you don’t know.”

The ideals of the scientific method are what De Camara adheres to when evaluating marketing claims for the company’s products. “Sometimes scientists are really excited about the potential for a medication,” she says. “But talking about the scientific method is helpful grounding to remind them of what is known, and what can be stated factually, versus what is aspirational and what we hope will ultimately be proven to be true.”

“My experiences as a patient, the mother of a patient, and the daughter of a hospice nurse have all taught me to never lose sight of what I’m working on.”

De Camara has now been at Johnson & Johnson for more than twelve years. During that time, she has dedicated herself to driving diverse and talented teams, developing impactful and patient-minded partnerships with senior management, and supporting vital patient access programs. She has also realized a talent for bringing clarity to ambiguous legal processes.

“I specialize in advising on innovative programs and activities where the legal requirements are not completely clear,” De Camara says. “I love helping the company identify a path forward that can be operationalized by the business, and that skill has translated really well across different areas, like our social media communications and our establishment of patient support programs.”

These opportunities to grow and diversify her skill set while helping patients in meaningful ways are exactly what drew her to the company in the first place, De Camara says. She’d had her eye on Johnson & Johnson for several years before she actually joined. But while its stellar reputation and wide array of products were what initially caught her eye, the people at the company—and their attitude toward the work—are what really hooked her.

“I actually interviewed with about fifteen lawyers in the course of getting an offer,” De Camara recalls. “To a person, I felt a sense of kindred ethics, practice philosophy, excitement about how pharmaceutical companies can help people, and a strong belief that lawyers who are trusted advisors can have a meaningful and positive impact on the business. That was so striking, and over the years I’ve continued to be struck by how the company lives up to its credo.”

Quantified Commitment

The commitment of her team at Johnson & Johnson isn’t the only thing that inspires De Camara. She is also deeply dedicated to—and inspired by—the company’s commitment to D&I initiatives. “When you measure diversity and inclusion, it moves from being a lofty goal to being an everyday expectation,” De Camara asserts.

Johnson & Johnson has found a number of such measures, she reports, allowing them to track leaders’ abilities to live up to that expectation. “I’m very fortunate,” De Camara notes. “My company has an extensive commitment to these initiatives and a deep bench of resources to support their leaders.”

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