Michael Sneed | Influence 100

Michael Sneed 

Worldwide VP, Global Corporate Affairs & Chief Communication Officer 
Johnson & Johnson



No company in America has a tradition of public relations excellence to match pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, which to this day is revered for its textbook crisis response to the Tylenol tragedy and a values-based credo that has always elevated stakeholder relations to a key function at the company.

Michael Sneed now has primary responsibility for the company’s global marketing, communication, design and philanthropy functions, taking on the role in 2012, at a time when the company was recovering from a series of product recalls and other hits to its reputation. In the years since, he has dealt with a number of crises — most recently, allegations about the company’s role in the opioid crisis. More recently, he has been a leading voice on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Black America, joining a panel discussion held by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation on the “double pandemic” that impacts African-American communities. 

Sneed joined Johnson & Johnson in 1983 as a marketing assistant for its personal products business and moved to McNeil Consumer Products, where he served as vice president, worldwide consumer pharmaceuticals. He then relocated to Europe as managing director of McNeil Consumer Nutritionals, before returning to the US as president of McNeil Nutritionals Worldwide. In 2007, he moved to J&J’s medical device and diagnostic sector as company group chairman before assuming responsibility for J&J’s brand and reputation.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Continue to show the value of communications in a post Covid-19 world, when it comes to changing the way we work and how to best navigate.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
The central role that communications have played in showing the role of companies acting in the best interests of their stakeholders during the pandemic.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
Little progress on great gender and racial diversity.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Lots more exercise. Frequent breaks. Zoom calls of no more than 30 minutes at a time.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
A Netflix show called Never have I Ever, narrated by John McEnroe, about a young Indian teenager. Very clever and a good respite away from the challenge of the moment.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
In politics.

Sum up 2020 in one word.