Oral Histories

Ray Jordan

Interview Segments on Topic: Selecting a PR Career

Ray Jordan Biography

Ray Jordan is senior vice president of corporate affairs at Amgen, the world’s largest independent biotech firm. A pharma veteran, he previously was vice president of communications and information at Johnson & Johnson, and brought 27 years of experience in global health care to his position at Amgen, having spent 17 years at Pfizer before joining J&J.

Transcript

INTERVIEWER: It is March 22, 2012, (this interview is for) the oral history project of the Arthur W. Page Center at Penn State. We are at the Grand Hyatt in New York and speaking with Ray Jordan, vice president for public relations and corporate communications for Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Ray, students always like to know how successful people got where they are, could you give us a thumbnail of your career trajectory?

JORDAN: Career trajectory, okay. I was afraid you were going to ask that question because I have a colorful trajectory. In the sense that I’ve had both—during my career both a fascination with numbers and with words. And it was only over time that I actually started bringing those together in the public relations, public affairs area and found that kind of the analytical work on the business side was actually helpful for being able to frame messages on behalf of an enterprise, and to be able to focus on the messages. And also to some extent, being able to drive the messages with senior leadership. So my root, given that, was that I had begun some work as a math major. Didn’t want to pursue finally a degree in mathematics. Took a break, and went back to a passion that I had, which was journalism. Spent a couple of years as a journalist, finished off my undergraduate degree, and began work back more in the operations side of businesses, where I spent about half a dozen or 8 years in operations work. Worked for Pfizer in operations and increasingly missed the engagement with the media, with the press, with all the things that I had experienced earlier that were more on the language than let’s say the analytical side of the equation. So in a big company, I was able to gravitate my way into the pubic affairs organization. I did some policy research work, and then migrated in to more responsibilities in the classic communication area. So it took me a good 20 years to make my way over to the work that would then form the back half now, of my career, which has been in public affairs. My move from Pfizer to Johnson & Johnson was quite a consistent move in terms of the responsibilities and the role I was playing. Just in a very different type of organization.