Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Johnson & Johnson’s Alice Lin Fabiano Is Helping To Change Our…

Posted on

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Johnson & Johnson’s Alice Lin Fabiano Is Helping To Change Our World

Be unapologetically yourself. We are often told to fit in, but I learned the freedom of embracing my own individuality over time. As a female and an Asian, we are the least likely to be promoted to the management level, and because of that, we try to mold ourselves into something to reach that goal, often at the expense of being our own unique selves.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alice Lin Fabiano.

Alice Lin Fabiano is a Global Director at Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, Global Community Impact. In this capacity, she leads Johnson & Johnson’s social innovation and investment strategy to foster a healthy, vibrant innovation ecosystem. Her team partners with technologists, entrepreneurs, social venture investors, thought leaders, and communities in the discovery and nurturing of ideas addressing some of society’s toughest health challenges.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

As a daughter of immigrant parents, my aspiration to contribute to making our world a more equitable and just society, — no matter where someone is born or resides — is deeply personal to me. This passion has grown to a rewarding set of career moves across business, finance, nonprofits, and philanthropy — all with the view of driving societal impact as I’ve advanced in my career.

My story starts really personally, with my family. I am the daughter of Chinese immigrants and I have seen the American dream come to life. My grandmother grew up poor in a small village and was the last generation of those who had bound feet. Fast forward to my mother who was the first to go to college in her family, graduated from the #1 university in Taiwan and moved to the US for greater opportunities. On my father’s side, he and his brother are 12 years apart because their two sisters died in childhood due to lack of health care. These stories and the support of my family led me to where I am today.

I began my career in more of a traditional finance position, but I’ve always worked to initiate change whether that be in the form of advancing women and children’s health to providing support to families in the immediate aftermath of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. Prior to my current position at J&J, I counseled nonprofit executives on how to further their organization’s charitable mission and I sit on several boards that help bring essential care to people around the world.

I am now passionate about paying it forward. Not everyone has great education, nurses, or doctors, but I very much wanted to find a track in helping solve these societal issues.

When I went to school, there wasn’t really a track for social good in business. Instead, I collected a portfolio of work experiences across venture philanthropy, non-profits, strategy, and lived in Ghana, Europe, Asia — all in the intersection of purpose, capital and business for good , then I landed at J&J. The path that I am now on is to look to channel these forces of healthcare and impact entrepreneurship.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Interestingly enough, one of the most pivotal times at my Company was when I first became a mother. At J&J, we were in the midst of delivering our $100m commitment to United Nations to improve the lives of mothers and their families in Africa and Asia.

I was leading the innovation in using mobile phones to improve maternal care with expectant moms. It seems obvious today, but 10 years ago, it was a novel idea to provide information to women in areas that are typically harder to reach through SMS or text. Through partnerships with U.N Foundation, Ministries of Health, local technology and maternal health enterprises, we were on a mission to deliver mobile messages with vital health information to be in the palm of every mother’s hand.

My labor and delivery were particularly challenging — but luckily, I had access to good health information, and the best care. This was not the case for most women around the world and fueled my drive to bring health equity to women around the world.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

As the largest, most broadly-based healthcare company in the world, Johnson & Johnson is uniquely positioned to bring together the most innovative and entrepreneurial minds to put better health within reach for everyone, everywhere. We saw that while there is a $700 billion impact investment cap worldwide, only 7% of that goes towards health-related causes. The creation of Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures (JJIV) in 2019 was to directly address this gap and inspire private funding to improve health worldwide.

We invest our time, capital and expertise into purpose-driven entrepreneurs around the world making a difference in the health of their community. We focus on addressing health workforce and healthcare challenges in areas where governments alone are unable to meet the need within their communities. JJIV unites public, private and philanthropic sectors to address the unmet needs and more, via social impact and innovative financing models. And we don’t just invest money — we invest ourselves: providing hands-on mentorship and leveraging the unique networks that we have available to us as the world’s largest and most diversified healthcare company. All to help these startups succeed and grow their impact.

Since our inception in 2019, JJIV joined forces with close to 50 impact entrepreneurs, helping nearly 2M people worldwide and supporting 13K healthcare providers. To continue and amplify our impact, JJIV announced in October of this year an additional $50M in funding from the Johnson & Johnson Foundation.

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Meeting and seeing the impact of JJIV is why I do my job! I find myself learning from these innovative health entrepreneurs on a daily basis and hearing their stories is so inspiring.

A lot of impact ventures work began in Africa, specifically Kenya, where there is such a strong entrepreneur ecosystem — and a high need for access to care. I was fortunate to meet Liza Kimbo — a talented, seasoned entrepreneur who is the CEO of South Lake Medical Center. Her vision was to build a new surgical unit in an area that serves thousands of flower farm workers and their families — we shared this vision to bring access to quality care and invested in their company. After much work, earlier this year, they conducted their first surgery on a 17-year-old girl. Now, this young woman’s life is transformed through eye care, and was able to do so through so through local medical care provided by South Lake. This story displays the ability and need to have local, high-quality medical care and its immediate impact it can have on a person and town.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Today’s solutions alone will not be enough to solve the big, societal challenges that our world is facing. Which is why we must look to invest in innovation all over the world and support local entrepreneurs and their cutting-edge ideas. When thinking about the impact you or your community can make, I always give advice to have big ambitions, but start small. Not only does it make a daunting task feel more within reach but creating meaningful and lasting change starts within a community at the grassroots” level and grows over time.

From there, my advice is to work with local entrepreneurs who have identified an unmet need and are working to create that change. You can offer your time to volunteer, donate, and take time to educate yourself on the matter, which can take many forms!

Finally, don’t forget to communicate and bring your organization along in the journey. Not only will this be critical to the success of the endeavor, but you’ll also have great people who want to help you get there.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I try to practice service leadership. You need to discover your purpose in something bigger than yourself, check your ego at the door, and answer a call to lead in service of something or someone else.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Trust your gut. I have been taught to trust the numbers and be data driven, but I wish I knew to trust my gut — it’s actually a scientifically proven thing!

Be unapologetically yourself. We are often told to fit in, but I learned the freedom of embracing my own individuality over time. As a female and an Asian, we are the least likely to be promoted to the management level, and because of that, we try to mold ourselves into something to reach that goal, often at the expense of being our own unique selves.

Find a sponsor, not a mentor. Don’t know the difference? A sponsor puts his/her reputation on the line to advocate for you and your ideas. It is the person that will say “you take the risk and I take the blame.”

Find the right partner in life. For me, my husband Michael sees us as equal partners- with equal importance in home and career. Particularly for women, who you choose to share your life with is a huge factor in being able to continue your career and a family.

Understand what fuels you personally or gives you purpose and look for ways to infuse that in your career.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A good idea can come from anyone, anywhere. If I can inspire a movement, it would be to unleash the human potential in every person towards social good. To feel that no matter your economic status, your title at your company, your gender, race, or geography — to feel that they ARE the changemaker that the world is waiting for — for your organization, your family and your community. The world needs you, and is waiting for you to create the solutions that will make our world more just and equitable for all.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two:

Kantor’s law: “In the middle, everything looks like a failure”. Everyone feels motivated by the beginnings and obviously, we love happy endings, but it is in the middle where the hard work happens. (and so my plea to every person — please, don’t give up in the middle!)

Ruth Bader Ginsberg “it helps to be a little deaf” (great marriage AND career advice!)

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.

I would love to have lunch with the Dalai Lama. In the world we are living in today, his views around kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are fundamental.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Twitter at @ALinFabs and on LinkedIn.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Johnson & Johnson’s Alice Lin Fabiano Is Helping To Change Our… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.