Women Leaders in Pharma Interview Series

Women Leaders in Pharma Interview Series

Interview With Sally Macaluso

About Sally

Sally Macaluso is the Vice-President and Chief Procurement Officer of Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices and Business Services Procurement. In this role, Sally is responsible for the Procurement business engagement activities for the Johnson & Johnson Medical Devices sector. Sally is also responsible for managing $8 billion of global Enterprise-wide spending in the Business Services categories which include Travel, Fleet, and Meetings; HR Services; Corporate Services; and IT. Sally is a member of the Johnson & Johnson Procurement Leadership Team.

Sally is very passionate about women’s leadership. She was the Executive Sponsor of the Procurement Women’s Leadership Initiative for five years. She also currently serves as the Executive Sponsor for the Professional Pillar of the Johnson & Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, Manufacturing, & Design (WiSTEM2D) Program.

Sally has a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Bucknell University and a Master’s degree in Chemistry from Lehigh University. Sally lives in Easton, Pennsylvania with her husband and two daughters.


What risks have you taken in your career that have paid off?

  • When I first graduated from college with a degree in Chemistry, I worked in Medicinal Chemistry for a few years. I felt isolated in the laboratory and had a strong desire to learn more about the company and grow as a leader. I investigated numerous career options and was drawn to Procurement where I could leverage my scientific education while, at the same time, gaining experience in Supply Chain. My managers, mentors, and peers all advised me about the risks of leaving my R&D role and taking a position in Supply Chain because I would be leaving my technical career path, making it difficult to come back. I ultimately took the biggest risk of my career and left Medicinal Chemistry to start a career in Procurement. The change was refreshing, and I thrived in an environment where I could learn every day about the pharmaceutical industry and contribute to the company’s ability to get lifesaving products to our patients around the world. Being in Procurement allowed me to strengthen muscles that I never knew I had and grow in ways I never could have imagined. My advice is to follow your heart and don’t be afraid to take risks in your career because they can really pay off.

What impact do you think COVID will have on women in the workplace and how can we mitigate this impact?

  • Despite the fact that women now outnumber men in earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, there is still a wide gap between men and women in leadership positions in the workforce, which suggests that women continue to face barriers in their advancement. There has been some progress made in the last decade; however, the COVID pandemic is expected to have a disproportionate impact on women because of the role that they continue to play as primary caretakers in society. As a result of the pandemic, many women are taking positions with less responsibility and are also leaving the workforce. Therefore, the pandemic threatens to set women back in the progress that has been made in increasing their representation and leadership positions in the workforce. I think that companies will need to focus on how to create the flexibility needed to mitigate this impact on females in the workforce. Many companies like Johnson & Johnson are creating more flexible programs in which employees can elect to work from home a certain number of days per week. Companies will also need to leverage “Return-ship” programs when women who leave the workforce are ready to return to their careers. For example, I am proud of a program that I sponsor at Johnson & Johnson called Re-Ignite that allows us to bring back women (and men) who have taken breaks in their careers into our workforce and provides them with the support they need throughout the transition. We have now hired over 100 Returners to Johnson & Johnson through the Re-Ignite Program and know that the program will only increase in importance in the current COVID environment.

What role has networking played in your career advancement?

  • Networking both internally and externally has probably been the single most important tool that I have leveraged to develop my career. Going back as early as my college days, it was my Organic Chemistry professor who introduced me to his graduate school colleague which ultimately resulted in my first job in the pharmaceutical industry. Then, when I was considering a career change from Medicinal Chemistry to Supply Chain, I networked across the company to learn about various career opportunities. It was through that networking that I met Bob Kanuga (a past DCAT President by the way!) who gave me my first role in Procurement very early in my career. Finally, I also leveraged networking when I made the career change to come to Johnson & Johnson. I had met Anu Hans through DCAT who not only inspired me to make a career change but also had an extraordinary impact on my career by becoming one of my mentors. The amazing leaders that I have met through networking have had an indelible impact on my career. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to create both an internal and external network for yourself no matter where you are in your career.

What advice would you give to women in the Pharma Industry that will help them become better leaders?

  • One piece of advice that I would give to all women is to have confidence in themselves and be open to any opportunities that come your way no matter how outside of your comfort zone they are. Most of you are probably aware of the statistic which shows that women are much less likely than men to apply for positions when they are not 100% qualified. Have confidence in yourself as a leader and do not be afraid to take risks. When I reflect on my career, the positions that I grew the most in were those that were the most intimidating to me. Secondly, invest in building an internal and external network that will be there to support and guide you when you need it! Finally (and I saved the most important one for last), be a supporter and enabler to other women. One of the biggest responsibilities and privileges we have as women leaders is to help and enable the women around us. I have spent my career trying to give to other women what so many women have given to me… friendship, mentorship, sponsorship, advice, opportunities, and more!