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7 Questions with Nico Sacco
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7 Questions with Nico Sacco
Name: Nico Sacco
Current title: Vice President WW Deliver Operations
Current organisation: Johnson&Johnson
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
It can be easy to get caught up in the amount of work that must be done and in the day-to day-operations. As a leader, I must keep a high-level view of the business, allowing me to connect the dots across functions, teams, customers, and the world. To get too focused on all the granular details is to risk not being able to think innovatively, challenge the status-quo, and provide better patient and customer experiences.
Successful leaders must also remember to never lose sight of what really matters most: our people. I put a lot of time and thought into our talent. If they don’t feel motivated or trust our leaders, they will not give their full potential. I want everyone that works with me to be engaged, happy, and fulfilled in their work. Effective leaders ensure their people come first.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Working in the largest health company in the world over the last 21 years has given me great opportunities and opened many possibilities. I have been able to keep growing in my career through all the different areas, segments, and functions where I have worked and expanded my knowledge. It has also helped me to develop strong connections with a larger circle of people. At every level and in whatever job I had, I always focused on my people and developing great leadership teams. I also used innovation to challenge the status-quo and deliver great results.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
During COVID-19, I have had to rethink my routine. I typically wake up and spend a half hour working out before jumping onto numerous virtual meetings across various regions and time zones. I do have some very firm rules to ensure balance: I never skip my small lunch break to watch the news or connect with my family if I am home, and the weekend is fully dedicated to time with my family and friends.
During this challenging time, resilience and a focus on mental health must be prioritized. I’m using the tools and programs provided by my company which are designed to transform the way we approach energy management so that we are equipped to handle stress and prevent burnout, and I am encouraging my teams to use these resources as well.
At Johnson & Johnson, the health and safety of all employees and their families comes first. I completely agree with this principle and always tell my teams that caring for ourselves and one another is critical for our success.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I live by a few simple rules. First, to always be honest with myself and be authentic as a leader. You have to find the energy, the resilience and the courage to lead and set the tone with your teams, no matter what is happening in the environment. Being genuine pays off over the long term; you connect more deeply with people, you don’t compromise or take shortcuts for a quick win, and the trust and respect you earn will be paid back.
I also live by what I call “a recipe for business success”, which is Johnson & Johnson’s Credo. We call it Our Credo, and it challenges us to put the needs and well-being of the people we serve first. Every time I have to make an important decision, I can refer to Our Credo for guidance and inspiration. If my thinking is aligned with its powerful words, then I feel confident that I’m making the right decision.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
There isn’t a specific book; rather my leadership has been impacted by the many inspirational people I’ve encountered in my career. The advantage to working at a large, global company is the diversity of experiences and backgrounds among your colleagues. It doesn’t matter what someone’s job title is, whether they are a manager or a senior executive, but what they can teach you. I have learned a lot by watching and observing others and by adopting the best from them. So always stay humble and know you can always learn something valuable from others.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
We follow a leadership model, which guides how every one of our employees is expected to lead – regardless of role, level, tenure or whether they are currently in a position to lead teams. Our Credo and our purpose to change the trajectory of human health is at the center, supported by three leadership imperatives:
Connect: Diverse and inclusive leadership leads to greater innovation and success.
Shape: Focuses on fostering innovation across the company.
Grow: Inspiring yourself and others to become your best. Also to grow your ability to work with speed and agility.
We also place a lot of trust in our teams and empower our people to make decisions, which also helps increase leadership competencies at all levels.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
I follow the principles of “servant leadership”, which means putting people first, with an emphasis on development and empowerment. I live into this by making myself available regularly to connect with anyone in my organization, such as my monthly Virtual Coffee meetings. This is open to all employees who can sign up, and it’s proven to be a very valuable opportunity for me to listen to what challenges people are facing, so I can help remove those barriers. It’s also a way for employees to share what’s going well or what innovative ideas they have for how we can improve.
My organization also does annual Innovation Challenges, again open to all employees to ask for their input on how we can tackle a specific business challenge. One of the greatest things about Johnson & Johnson is the recognition that great ideas can come from anywhere, and we encourage employees to share their unique voices no matter their job title or level. And our employees know we “walk the talk” and will explore implementing some of the top peer-voted ideas in these challenges.