Influential Leaders

Zoë André-Lawson

Senior Scientist, Manufacturing Science & Technology, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson
Recognition Year(s): 2023
Area of Impact: Healthcare or Wellness
School: The Open University Business School, The Open University
Location: United Kingdom

Zoë André-Lawson is a leader in her professional field, as both a senior scientist at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and deputy director of education at HBA Europe. Since completing her MBA studies, André-Lawson has been a role model for women in STEM through her work with various professional and civil society organizations, including the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, where she is active in the Women in Pharma community.

Prior to 2017, André-Lawson was the technology transfer manager—helping to move research initiatives from the lab to the marketplace—for life sciences at CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research). In this role she helped establish a novel facility for therapeutic radioisotopes, CERN MEDICIS; assisted in technology transfer realization to two new European proton therapy centers; and was a driving force in creating the UK-CERN technology business incubator center.

In 2017, André-Lawson was forced to take a career break due to pregnancy health complications that made it impossible for her to work. Her MBA program at The Open University Business School was a key factor in overcoming the subsequent résumé gap that resulted from her employment break. The program not only equipped her with the skills needed to develop social enterprise and citizen involvement projects during the break but also helped her personally manage through a difficult period. She was able to draw on elements of change management, strategy, and reflective practice to help develop her personal resiliency. It was also instrumental in getting her back into the workplace via J&J’s global Re-Ignite program, a return-to-work initiative for experienced STEM professionals who’ve had a career break, at the start of 2021.

Now, as a senior scientist for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, André-Lawson is responsible for driving and implementing innovations and new technologies in the manufacture of some of the company’s most profitable products, including therapeutic monoclonal antibodies—also called biologic drugs. André-Lawson is also a graduate of J&J’s Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, an organization that supports the advancement and impact of women in healthcare.

In addition to using her career break to recuperate and care for her young children, André-Lawson also led two social projects: an existing initiative working to develop the business case for a Ghana-based social enterprise in hygiene and sanitation, and a Swiss nationwide hackathon team working on solutions to the myriad issues brought forth by the COVID-19 crisis. Motivated by feeling powerless in the face of the pandemic, André-Lawson jumped at the chance to get involved. She forged a team with six strangers, all interested in looking at ways to combat the fake science news related to the pandemic. Over the course of a weekend, the team worked intensely and generated a mobile gaming app prototype, finishing in the top 40 of more than 560 teams and receiving 1,000 CHF (about 1,080 USD) as a prize to continue the work. Since completing her MBA in 2015, André-Lawson also continues to support Grow Movement, a remote entrepreneurial coaching organization, as a volunteer business consultant and blogger, having assisted SME entrepreneurs in Egypt and Malawi.

On top of her professional duties, André-Lawson is an active member of two employee resource groups: the African Ancestry Leadership Programme, representing the Switzerland chapter as a volunteer and ally, and the Women’s Leadership Initiative, supporting the Swiss Zug chapter and the global WiSTEM2D program that encourages girls’ and young women’s passion for science and STEM careers. These roles involve interacting with and leading people from diverse communities, and her MBA work in intercultural management, particularly Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, has been an invaluable tool in this area.

André-Lawson is continually presented with opportunities to practice the knowledge and skills gained throughout her MBA studies, particularly drawing on lessons in entrepreneurship and intercultural management. Having experienced the struggle of an unplanned career break, she is now a passionate advocate for career returners and a champion for J&J’s Re-Ignite program, having been chosen to represent the company’s current external PR campaign. In spring 2021, André-Lawson was invited to join the HBA Europe team as deputy director of education. In this role, she will help develop a European strategy for women’s careers in healthcare and a campaign that advocates for returnship programs across the pharmaceutical and wider healthcare industries.

André-Lawson is a member of several female entrepreneur groups and is currently using skills from her MBA in business strategy, marketing, and entrepreneurship to develop a bitesize online course specifically for women who wish to re-enter the workplace after a career break.