Meet Litha Gamnca
A Sustainable Scientist
Litha Gamnca has been with Johnson & Johnson ever since her graduation day from university. She loves community and collaboration and has found a way to maintain both—no matter where her career has taken her. A native South African, she has brought accessibility and sustainability to the forefront of feminine product innovation.
How She Got Her Start
Litha was recruited straight from university in September 2018 by the Johnson & Johnson Research and Development Leadership Training Program (RDLDP) in the Consumer sector. She will always be grateful for the program because it awarded her opportunities, she never thought she would have especially coming from a country with a rising unemployment rate. Growing up in a rural village in Tsolo, a town buried in poverty, even getting into university was a dream come true for her, let alone being part of the RDLDP program. It gave her the opportunity to grow and diversify her knowledge within the Research and Development (R&D) field.
During her first year at the company, she was tasked with developing feminine products and increasing their accessibility for emerging markets. “This project was especially important to me. Coming from a region where feminine products are scarce, I feel lucky to know that the work I do is impacting those communities,” Litha shared.
The Birth of Ideas
Litha works on upstream innovation – a term that could be unfamiliar to many. “It’s birthing an idea,” she described. Essentially, her role is to understand different markets and consumer needs to drive innovations for even newer products. That understanding has led to a strong focus on sustainability innovation. “Finding sustainable solutions isn’t always easy, but it’s extremely important for the health of our planet and the health of our people.”
How Her Community Helped Her
Last June, she was offered a role in Germany working exclusively on feminine care. “The thought of moving a world away, especially during a pandemic, was scary. But my passion for feminine care and the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of so many women drove me to take the leap of faith.” She landed in a new country with a suitcase and no prior German-language experience in the midst of a pandemic.
Despite these challenges, Litha said her Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health colleagues and their guidance allowed for a smoother transition than she had anticipated.
Everyone Brings Something of Value
Many people may not realize how lengthy the product development process is, but Litha said it takes around five years to fully research and develop a tampon from scratch. She brings a passion for accessibility and sustainability, but the beauty of her work is that it’s never a one-person job. Litha gets to collaborate with suppliers, consumers, engineers and other important team members, all with different ideas, insights and life experiences.