Caren Kenney, head of J&J's Premier Executive Leadership program, is out to improve the overall health of CEOs

CarenKenney
Caren Kenney is removing "stressors" that hold CEOs back. (Johnson & Johnson)

Caren Kenney, head of Johnson & Johnson’s Premier Executive Leadership program, strives to keep CEOs tiptop at $125,000 a pop.

Kenney and the executive leadership program achieve this by setting a course “to reinforce the mental, emotional and physical resilience of CEOs and senior executives,” she told FierceCEO.

In other words, the program aims to prevent CEO burnout. “It’s the 24/7 nature of the job,” Kenney said. “We’ve never seen this level of stress before.”

CEOs face, among other stressors, “greater levels of accountability and expectations from boards to move faster,” Kenney said.

The nine-month program, which costs $125,000, includes:

  • Teaming executives with a dietician, an executive coach and a physiologist
  • Family engagement and home visits
  • A two-day health assessment at the Mayo Clinic
  • Ongoing assessments
  • Two-and-a-half-day performance training sessions for the CEO, their administrative assistant and their significant other
  • A Premier Executive Concierge, who partners with the CEO’s administrative assistant to schedule all meetings and appointments and supports the CEO throughout the program

The Premier Executive Leadership program was started at the end of 2016 with J&J executives. It expanded to outside CEOs and other high-ranking executives in March 2017.

Kenney said J&J does not disclose the number or industry type of the CEOs that have participated in the program.

J&J describes the initiative as “an exclusive, highly personalized executive development program designed to reinforce the mental, emotional and physical resilience of CEOs and senior executives slated for the most critical and demanding C-suite roles in some of the world’s leading organizations.”

Kenney acknowledges there are many executive leadership programs and coaches out there, but says the others “are not doing anything in an integrated way. No one has put it together. This is about understanding the individual holistically.”

And at the CEO level, “They have a unique set of needs and stressors,” Kenney said. “Yet, they haven’t been focused on.”

Kenney became part of the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, which the Premier Executive Leadership program is part of, in 2016. This came after joining J&J in 2008 and being senior director of Thought Leadership for Johnson & Johnson Health and Wellness Solutions, where, she said, she “built and launched strategic enterprise health and wellness enterprise platforms, initiatives and partnerships.”

Prior to her work at J&J, Kenney was director of marketing for behavioral health at HealthMedia. She was also co-founder and vice president of MySelfHelp.com, a health tech startup that provided a suite of behavioral health and digital health coaching solutions that were ultimately acquired by J&J.

In addition, she spent seven years as a marketing and business development consultant for health, technology and insurance companies, and 10 years at Data General/EMC Corporation in strategic marketing.

She is also an executive coach, trained through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, currently working with business leaders and senior executives in the health and wellness, management consulting and insurance industries, and a member of the International Coaching Federation. She is not a coach for the Johnson & Johnson program.

“We all need to focus on mental and personal resilience,” Kenney said.

Fast Five with Caren Kenney

What is the most important trait of a leader?

Character.

What keeps you up at night?

My concern about leaders who are struggling.

What do you wish you had known five years ago that you know now?

I wish we would have brought character training to CEOs earlier on.

When have you had to adapt and what did you learn?

In regard to the program, you have to hyper-personalize it.

What’s a tip for motivating employees?

You have to help them get a line to their personal purpose.