Paulette Frank, vice president, EHS and sustainability at Johnson & Johnson, sat down with us recently to discuss her inspiration for tackling issues related to human and environmental health.
Keep reading to discover why Paulette enjoys palm reading (for fun), what compels her to run toward the next big challenge, how she’d like to pool resources with other members, and more.
What project are you most excited about right now?
PF: I am really excited about how our environmental sustainability team is leaning into the intersection between human health and environmental health. We’re focusing on the environmental factors that affect public health and working with new partners to bring the message of “healthy people need a healthy planet” to the forefront.
For example, our partnership with the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health is an opportunity to collaborate with the medical community on advocacy for climate and health. Medical professionals are on the front lines of the health impacts of climate change and are trusted advisors who can influence climate-friendly policy and action with real-world medical evidence. We want to help them deliver their message.
By framing the environment through the lens of human health, we add another element to the breadth of tools J&J brings to bear on solving the world’s most pressing public health challenges.
What inspires and drives you to work on sustainability?
PF: While I am a mom and want a healthy planet for my children, my inspiration goes back way before they were born. I grew up near the ocean and nature is simply the most beautiful thing I have ever seen (besides my babies).
To me, nature is stop dead in your tracks, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring beautiful. I could revel in a sunset or sunrise all day long if I could. I want that beauty in my life and the lives of my children and their children.
The other thing that inspires me is my love for a good old-fashion challenge. Since I can remember, I’ve been drawn to the “I have no idea how this is going to turn out” path versus the “no sweat” path. Even for my kindergarten graduation ceremony, I picked the longest poem on the list to recite, which happened to be Trees by Joyce Kilmer.
There is something gratifying about running toward the big hairy thing – even if you never conquer it – because you usually learn something you never expected. That’s way more thrilling than knowing what the outcome is going to be before you even start.
Can you share something about yourself that would surprise us? Any hidden talents?
PF: Actually, I read palms – for fun, not money. I’ve always been drawn to what’s below the surface – what we don’t necessarily see at first glance. And there is nothing like saying you read palms to get someone to stick their hand in your face and give you the chance to see a side of them you didn’t see coming!
If you had unlimited time and resources, what type of work would you want to collaborate with fellow SB Members on?
PF: One thing on my wish list is for companies to be able to come together and explore pooling our purchasing power to increase access to affordable, sustainable materials.
Why is your participation in the SB Member Network important?
PF: A company can’t be sustainable in a bubble and no one company or organization can make the world more sustainable alone. The world needs networks of the “like-inspired” to build bigger, faster boats and to help us all row in the same direction.
What do you work on in your free time?
PF: I spend most of my free time on the sidelines of a lacrosse field, track field or basketball court. I really should have made the cheerleading team in high school because I am one awesome cheerleader.
Anything else you'd like to share with fellow SB Members?
PF: I’d like to say “Thank you.” The SB community has been a place to recharge and reinvigorate for me with new ideas and new sources of inspiration. We are a small but mighty force and need to take care of each other because we all know it’s a marathon. And while I am no runner, I intend to make it over this finish line, with a little help from my friends.