Julie McHugh, J&J

June 1, 2008
Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 0

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Julie McHugh

Company Group Chairman, Global Virology Business, J&J

ACCOMPLISHMENT: Launching 2 HIV drugs in 18 months

FOCUSED ON: Pharma's long-term legacy

Julie McHugh developed a chronic case of love for pharma at 21 via a management-training program at SmithKline Beckman. "Being able to apply a business perspective to an industry in pursuit of the most profound value—health—to this day allows me to feel passionate about my work," she says. Like other leaders, McHugh also thrives on pharma's complexity. "I always feel like I'm just a little bit in over my head, and I like that," she says

Julie McHugh

At J&J, McHugh made her name by proving the experts wrong. Launching Remicade, she was told to expect "a very niched, not terribly exciting product," and instead made it into a $3.3 billion cash cow. "I have a way of thinking about things as being achievable, even if they haven't been done before, and then backing into a plan," she says. "Also, I listen carefully to my team, especially the scientists. As a lay person, I'm not afraid to ask questions."

At her current gig—heading R&D and commercial strategy in virology, one of J&J's three therapeutic units—the MVP is Tibotec, with its three new HIV drugs. That focuses her ambitions on the global level. Accordingly, McHugh's expectations of what is needed from her generation's leadership is high. "We're not only thinking about how to be excited about the business now, but also committed to building the business we're going to be working in 10, 20 years from now," she says. "We know that we need to be more intentional about the legacy we leave. It's about being commercially successful, but it's also about being globally relevant."