#177: Building Kenvue, Cross Industry Success and People

In this episode, I interviewed Meri Stevens, Chief Operations Officer at Kenvue. Meri shares her vast experience in an industry that constantly demands adaptability and clear strategy and how this led to Kenvue’s domination in the market. She briefly explains how strategic divestitures help companies maximize their value by focusing on specific competencies and targeted audiences, providing an insider look into some of the toughest decision-making processes in business.

We then dived into her career path, discussing the trajectory that has seen her succeed in various sectors, from medical devices to consumer health, strengthening her operational leadership skills. We discussed the defining moments that shaped her career and leadership style, highlighting her actualization of operations and strategic thinking. With each career pivot, we grasp her strategic mindset and how it has helped her succeed in an evolving industry.

Listen to the full discussion here:

  • Stream by clicking here.
  • Download as an MP3 here.



Connect with the Guest:

Meri Stevens is Kenvue’s Chief Operations Officer. In this role, Meri leads the effort to transform Supply Chain into a true source of competitive advantage and maintain the strength of the company’s global operations. She ensures the company delivers on its growth objectives and offers customers and consumers high-quality service and products daily. She also oversees end-to-end Quality, Supply Chain, and Procurement.

Meri previously served as Johnson & Johnson Worldwide Vice President, Consumer Health Supply Chain and Deliver. In July 2020, she expanded her leadership responsibilities to include the Consumer Health Supply Chain. Before this, Meri led Johnson & Johnson Supply Chain Strategy and Deployment, championing the global supply chain transformation, a position she held since 2015.

In her previous role, Meri was responsible for the end-to-end Consumer Health Supply Chain organization and all Global Delivery functions for Johnson & Johnson, including order fulfillment and customer service. Meri transformed these organizations to achieve world-class reliability and sustainability, unlocking value for profitable growth. By embracing the power of digital, her teams achieved greater agility, innovation, and resilience, assuring the continued supply of Johnson & Johnson’s iconic brands to customers, consumers, and communities globally.

Meri has more than 30 years of operations experience through a series of senior leadership positions with global corporations. Before Johnson & Johnson, she was the Chief Supply Chain Officer at Newell Rubbermaid. She also held operations and procurement leadership roles at Tyco, Bertelsmann, Knoll, and General Electric.


Questions I Asked:

  • What are the leadership inflection points and personal growth you had in your career?
  • How to embrace change and continuous learning in the workplace?
  • What are the lessons and key successes you have as a COO?
  • What are the principles of success you’ve seen across different industries?
  • Do you have any advice for young professionals who are aiming to reach the C-Suite level?

Show notes:

  • [0:25] What were those moments in time in your career that you can look back and say, “Hey, that made a lot of difference for me?”
  • [8:57] Are there any secret or not-so-secret principles of success across the wide variety of industries you’ve been in?
  • [13:37] Are there certain things that are low-hanging fruits when you want to change and shift? 
  • [18:21] As the biggest consumer health company in the world, you had to create a new organization and a new structure for the operations and supply chain teams, as well as for the whole company. What are some key lessons learned and key successes?
  • [22:15] What would be those 3 points if I can challenge you that you need to get right?
  • [27:10] From your perspective, what are some of the toughest challenges that you see in operations and supply chain? 
  • [31:41] What are some of the principles and skills that no matter what happens will still be useful?
  • [35:57] For aspiring individuals with 5 to 10 years of experience in their careers, aiming to reach the C-suite and eventually become a COO like yourself, is there any additional piece of advice that you haven’t shared yet but would like to offer to our listeners?

Quotes from the Episode:

Soundbite from the Episode:


About the Host:

What an inspiring conversation with Meri Stevens! I am your host, Radu Palamariu, Managing Director of Alcott Global for APAC and Europe, working on C-level and top management executive search assignments with Top Fortune 500 companies and local conglomerates in value chains for manufacturing, logistics, transportation, supply chain management, and e-commerce and also the co-author of “From Source to Sold – Stories of Leadership in Supply Chain”.

Alcott Global provides Executive Search Solutions for key positions at all pillars of the end-to-end value chain: planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, e-commerce, and overall supply chain operations.

Meet us in Singapore on April 18 and Zurich on May 16 at the Makers & Movers face-to-face events. These events bring together value chain executives to connect, collaborate, and innovate—a forum focused on business value creation.

You can nominate supply chain leaders you admire for the 2024 edition of the Leaders in Supply Chain Awards until April 4, 2024. We look forward to celebrating and awarding the Top 30 Leaders in Supply Chain of 2024 for their achievements in digitizing operations, decarbonization, and sustainability, as well as in creating a diverse and equitable environment for supply chain teams to thrive and excel.

Related Episodes:

#174: Principles to Grow Costa Coffee’s Reach Exponentially

#175: Journey to CEO, AVON’s Omnichannel and Value Chain Development

#176: Geopolitics, Green Economy, the Monkey and the Money




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