As the North America Deliver Operations Lead at Johnson & Johnson, Elaine Thibodeau’s work helps ensure quality, continuity, preparedness and resiliency across the supply chain. She also serves as an advocate for women in the manufacturing industry and a voice of encouragement for millions of young women and girls who might enter the industry one day.
“I think we need to keep fighting the myth that a manufacturing career doesn’t marry well with having a family,” Thibodeau said. “We need to find opportunities to bring young women into our factories and give them early, positive experiences with the industry.”
Her 30 years of experience at Johnson & Johnson includes time in orthopedics, diagnostics, pharmaceutical manufacturing and consumer medical devices – roles that have come with all sorts of challenges. Earlier in her career, Thibodeau led a team that was tasked with taking over a third-party plant to continue producing an oncology medication that was on the FDAs drug shortage list. By making a deal with a supplier to take over a section of their plant, she kept production running.
Doctors in an advocacy group told Thibodeau how essential the medication was for their patients and how shortages caused them to make difficult decisions. “That always stuck with me – it motivated me every day to do my job well,” she said.
At times, Thibodeau faced immense challenges. After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, she worked to get manufacturing up and running, bringing jobs back to the community that was deeply affected and providing vital products to enable employees to take care of themselves.
“Day-to-day life was just physically difficult,” she said. “We had to take care of the people first, making sure they had what they needed to be safe, whether that was a generator or medicines or water or diapers.” In collaboration with site leaders and other businesses in the area, she helped to rebuild the industry and begin the process of renewal.
Thibodeau’s interest in manufacturing began at a young age. As a young girl, she built furniture for her dolls with raisin boxes and pieces of wood she found in her family’s garage. When her father, an electrician, went to work, she would tag along, learning how to trouble shoot, which is a skill that has proven valuable.
“I had building blocks and I liked to sew,” Elaine remembered. “I was always interested in putting things together.” An enthusiasm for math and some encouraging teachers led her to an engineering degree, and after a few years, she was offered her first role at Johnson & Johnson – beginning an exciting career that continues to draw her out of her comfort zone.
“If the new job or the new project doesn’t scare you a little bit,” she said, “you’re probably going to be bored in six months.”
ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The National Association of Manufacturers announced today that it will offer an association health plan to its members, extending affordable health care to small and medium-sized manufacturing companies and member associations in approved states. In states where the association health plan is not available, the NAM will connect manufacturers with available small-group options in their state.
“This association health plan is another step in our work to make the NAM a one-stop shop for manufacturing across the United States,” said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons. “With small and medium-sized businesses making up more than 90 percent of our membership, this plan will help provide health care and reduce uncertainty for workers and their employers across the country.”
The plan, called NAM Health Care (www.namhealthcare.com), was developed to meet manufacturers’ unique health care needs. It will offer a portfolio of health benefits options insured by UnitedHealthcare. In states where these plans are available, businesses with 2 to 99 employees will be able to choose from a variety of PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HSA (Health Savings Account) health plans. Members will also have access to UnitedHealthcare’s Choice Plus care provider network of more than 1.2 million physicians and care professionals and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare will work with any licensed or appointed agents who want to sell NAM Health Care.
In addition, Mercer will provide the NAM’s small business members with consulting services regarding health benefits offerings and contribution strategies, marketing support to educate and enroll their employees, plan administration and compliance services. The Mercer Affinity 365+sm platform will provide members technology for quoting, enrollment and ongoing benefits administration to drive cost efficiencies and facilitate employee engagement.
Association health plans allow companies to band together to manage and purchase health care coverage that may save on annual health insurance costs by providing plans that are typically enjoyed by larger companies at a competitive price. Under NAM Health Care, eligible member companies also will have access to supplemental benefits, including dental, vision and life.
“The work that manufacturers are doing every day grows the economy and strengthens our country, and they deserve the health care they need to do that job with certainty and support,” said Timmons. “At the NAM, we are proud to help lower costs and increase competitive health coverage for the men and women who make things in America.”
NAM Health Care is quoting these plans for eligible member groups for a Sept. 1, 2019, enrollment date. To enroll in these plans, where available, interested businesses may visit www.namhealthcare.com.