"I'm a Mom Who Makes Products for Babies": Meet 4 Johnson & Johnson Safety Scientists
Worry: It's what moms do best.
And while those nagging feelings can keep you up at night, they can also prove to be an asset—especially when you're a mother who's also in charge of researching, developing and testing the safety of products designed to be used on little ones around the world.
In the lead-up to Baby Safety Month in September, we spoke to these scientists about their jobs, life outside the lab—and how being a mom has helped them thrive in their careers.
“My job took on new meaning after I gave birth”
Trisha Bonner, Associate Director of Global Baby Research & Development, New Jersey
What I do: "I’m responsible for new product development for Johnson’s Baby, as well as Aveeno® Baby and Desitin®. On a daily basis, I ask myself: What are moms and dads looking for today? From there, I analyze both scientific and consumer insights to help create new products.
This means having many important discussions with our team about things like selecting the best ingredients, designing claims that help moms and dads better understand a product’s benefits and evaluating products in our labs.
How becoming a mom changed the way I work: Before I had my son, I always used to say that I was getting the best training in the world for motherhood because my work involved talking to thousands of moms and learning what they were doing with their babies.
We have a network of over 550,000 volunteers who have tested our products and provided feedback on them—and many have shared their own personal tips and tricks for things like bathing a baby, or keeping him warm. Now I get to use them in real life, after giving birth to my son 9 months ago.
Throughout my career, I’ve always asked the question: What would I want for my own child?Share
As you can imagine, my work took on a whole new meaning after becoming a mom. For starters, it has been so much fun to use the products I helped create, such as Johnson's® Baby Bubble Bath & Wash. Being a mom has also changed the way I think about developing products.
For example, we have a line of products that can be used as part of a routine that helps babies sleep better. Before I got pregnant, I thought it would be a great idea to do a similar thing for pregnant women, who can have a hard time sleeping. But when I was pregnant, I thought: I can’t believe I pitched a line of bedtime routine products for pregnancy! Because when I was expecting, I realized the only reason I couldn’t sleep was because I had heartburn and the baby was moving. It wasn’t because I couldn’t unwind!
Throughout my career, I’ve always asked the question: What would I want for my own child? Now, having a baby emphasizes that even more—and gives me added insight."
“It’s special to know that I'm now using products on my own baby that I once tested to ensure they're safe”
Surekha Suvarna, Principal Scientist, R&D Microbiology, India
What I do: "I joined Johnson & Johnson as a trainee in the microbiology lab in 1998. The lab manager at the time really took me under her wing, helping me feel like I was part of a 'work family' from the start.
Today, as a microbiologist on the team, I assess how well the formulations of products perform, with a specific focus on combating microbes—those little tyrants that can make products less shelf stable and less effective. My work exploring the potential of new antimicrobial molecules is definitely challenging: Our safety assurance process is so stringent that less than 2% of cosmetic ingredients used globally pass the test, meaning 98% of ingredients don’t meet our standards for baby products.
The best part of my job: When you bring a new life into the universe that tiny human becomes your number one priority. Now that I have a son, I am able to bring both my motherly instincts and my scientific expertise to the lab with me every day to help create products parents around the world can trust.
It’s a great feeling knowing the shampoos and lotions I use on my son, who is now 15 months old, are the very products I once tested to ensure they're safe. Having a little consumer of my own to hold and cuddle is a pretty special thing."
“As the mom of three toddlers, I have a unique perspective on motherhood and what moms value”
Lauren Carratello, Principal Scientist, Global Baby Franchise R&D/Product Development, New Jersey
What I do: "I’ve been with Johnson & Johnson since 2005, working in various departments across our consumer business. After I had my first daughter in 2013, and then my twin son and daughter two years later, I knew I had to be part of the baby R&D franchise.
I spend a lot of time strategizing and planning our product pipeline, as well as tracking each step of product development—from design to commercialization. I also work in the lab, creating and refining prototype formulations and overseeing stability testing and safety testing.
How becoming a mom changed the way I work: When I had my kids, my entire world suddenly revolved around babies—and I've had so many insights that I've been able to bring to the team in real time, as I experience them in my personal life.
The advice I give moms and truly live by: Do what is best for you and your baby. I believe the choices you make as a mom are instinctual.Share
For example, my kids all have very different hair. One has thick, wavy strands; another has super-fine hair, with tight curls; and the third has thin, straight hair. I could really use a product for toddlers specifically designed to help me comb through those fine, super-knotted curls, and another that would be better for straight, thin hair. This is the kind of personal experience as a mom that drives what I do each and every day.
And while my experiences as a mom inform my work, my work has also helped develop my skills as a mother. The advice I give moms and truly live by: Do what is best for you and your baby. It is so easy to get caught up in the swirl of judgments people place on mothers for not doing things one way or another.
I believe the choices you make as a mom are instinctual. You know what is best for your baby."
"I just want to do what's best for kids. Being a mom reminds me of this every day"
Cristina Guedes, R&D Director, Johnson's Baby Latin America, Brazil
What I do: "I've been working at Johnson & Johnson for 22 years—14 of which have been in Johnson's Baby.
My team is responsible for the product design of a variety of baby products, with a focus on hair care. We talk to consumers to learn what they're looking for, and what the trends in the market are.
Once we have an idea, we take it to the lab, where we collaborate to source the raw materials to create the safest formulations for each product, including designing fragrances with notes that convey comfort—fragrance is huge in Latin America. It's all about those bonding moments between parents and babies.
A big part of my job is also making sure our formulas live up to our safety and performance claims, like our No More Tears® and No More Tangles® promises. In addition to complying with legal and regulatory requirements, we also have our own stringent safety guidelines that we abide by.
The best part of my job: When I'm designing products, I just want to do what's best for kids. Being a mom reminds of this every day. Even though my kids are grown up—they're 20 and 23—I still think of them as my babies.
And when I'm working on formulas, I think about how moms feel when they see their baby has dry skin or a diaper rash. Babies are so fragile, and they rely so much on their parents. I want to help moms give their kids the best."