ELITE 2018 Disrupter Rick Kates of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

Rick Kates

Senior Director, Business Model Innovation

Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

Making Himself Obsolete

Rick Kates is not a scientist. Nor is he an engineer. But, his latest role, which was created as an experiment, sits within J&J Consumer Research & Development. He is not there to develop physical products, but to help the Consumer business think and act differently—shifting from products to platforms, from products to ecosystems, and really evolving the business model.

“J&J is a 132-year-old company that’s been very successful with physical products that sit on retail shelves,” Rick explains. “Every day millions of consumers are purchasing our products, but we don’t truly know those consumers. My role is to focus on technology and data as a core capability to create and deliver more value for consumers, and extract more sustained value for J&J.”

But Rick is not taking this on alone. He is partnering with Marketing, Behavior Scientists, a growing Health Tech team, J&J Design, R&D, the company’s Innovation Centers, and more. As an example, they are part of a beauty tech innovation team taking a novel approach to beauty. The first product introduced was the Neutrogena Light Therapy Acne Mask and this summer J&J will launch the Neutrogena Skin 360 app, which works with a SkinScanner tool to make product recommendations and help people track the health of their skin.

Previously, while at J&J’s LifeScan, he helped establish patient engagement as a core pillar of the company’s diabetes monitoring business. He pushed to have data play a stronger role in the portfolio, which his team then monetized. He also partnered to develop a strategic relationship with WellDoc integrating their BlueStar platform, a patented clinical and behavioral engine, with LifeScan’s OneTouch Verio Flex meter and OneTouch Reveal app. Even before that, while at Bayer he was asked to lead Viterion TeleHealthcare, a chronic disease remote patient monitoring startup that began as a joint venture between Panasonic and Bayer. He led the business to profitability and then successfully oversaw its divestiture.

But, Rick has gotten used to jumping into new and ambiguous roles, even if it means the role vanishes once the job is done. After all, his goal, in his own words, is to “obsolete myself.”


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