Black History Month: Meet the Innovators Behind P&G’s Everyday Innovations
Throughout Black History Month P&G is celebrating our innovators, their career journeys and accomplishments, and the contributions that they make to their work, the innovation behind the products we make and that help make the lives of our consumers better every day.
Jennifer Ahoni, Director of North America Fabric Care Scientific Communications
Jennifer Ahoni is one of the brains behind many of P&G’s advanced fabric care solutions like Tide Power PODS and Tide Infinity, the first laundry detergent designed to work in space. Most importantly, she is a mentor.
“I am really proud to have been a part of some truly great teams that have launched amazing products, but what really stands out to me is getting to be a mentor and influencing young women to take an interest in science, particularly young Black women who get to see someone who looks like them working in STEM,” says Ahoni.
She has been an integral part of uplifting women innovators at P&G, taking part in workshops and the mentorship programs P&G offers all employees from Day 1. “Exposing young women in the community to the opportunities in STEM and making an impact in this way is one of my greatest accomplishments.”
Outside of work, Ahoni loves to travel, immersing herself in new cities and cultures. “Getting outside of your comfort zone and usual surroundings is the best way to learn — the same is true in innovation! You have to think outside the box and look beyond your usual surroundings to solve tough challenges and make breakthroughs!”
Dr. Atiya Jordan-Brown, Senior Hair Care Scientist
Dr. Atiya Jordan-Brown is a P&G Senior Hair Care Scientist working in Scientific Communications, where she collaborates with dermatologists, marketing leaders and P&G Beauty scientists to research the latest hair science technologies and help individuals understand how these game-changers work to meet their hair care needs.
The role keeps her close to brands like Pantene Gold Series, My Black is Beautiful and Head & Shoulders.
“I have experienced challenges throughout my own hair journey as I learned to embrace my coily hair,” she says. “Now I enjoy sharing my love of science and hair with others as a career.”
Atiya received her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Louisiana State University. She started at P&G after participating in a three-day on-site program for PhD candidates that showcased research, science and technology career opportunities at P&G.
Outside of work, Atiya has a passion for encouraging young students to pursue STEM careers. “I enjoy learning and bringing the science behind out brands to life,” she says.
Veda Wilkins, Plant Manager
Veda Wilkins has spent an impressive 32 years at P&G evolving manufacturing and supporting brands like Secret, Gillette, Old Spice, Dawn, Head & Shoulders and Vicks.
“Manufacturing is where the action comes together,” the Chicago Plant Manager says. “You get to quickly see the fruits of your labor while impacting a significant number of people in the plant and surrounding community.”
Outside of her direct work with P&G, Veda enjoys mentoring students and encouraging them to pursue STEM degrees. Her best piece of advice for students wanting to enter the engineering, technology or innovation fields is to continue to grow their skills and capabilities. “Be open to continual learning!” she says.
Rolanda Wilkerson, Senior Director, Fellow Beauty Care
After 20 years at P&G, Rolanda Wilkerson is still inspired by her work. She’s helping to develop new products and deepen the company’s understanding of consumers’ varied and unique needs, especially when it comes to P&G’s portfolio of Beauty and Haircare brands.
Wilkerson has been an advocate of inclusive product design and works with her peers at P&G to showcase the science behind a suite of products in brands like Olay, My Black is Beautiful, Pantene Gold Series and Head & Shoulders. She is also using the power of the brands to help close the STEM gap for women — and particularly for women of color — worldwide.
“I absolutely love our brands’ STEM ambition,” Wilkerson says. “It’s one thing to develop products that improve people’s lives or make them feel better, it’s another thing when they believe, by seeing other women in Science as examples, that they can forge their own way and become a scientist too.”
Leading Scientific Communications for global skin and haircare brands is no easy feat, which is why her doctorate degree in organic chemistry is a huge asset. A widely recognized leader in her field, Rolanda has appeared in various media outlets and on nationally televised shows to help consumers understand how new beauty technologies and innovations work.
Wilkerson is passionate about motivating young girls to pursue careers in STEM and has advocated for this through her brand work, involvement in various service organizations and personal appearances at events like TEDx. She was recognized as one of LEAD and Venue Magazine’s “Great Leaders Under 40”, a YWCA Rising Star, a YMCA Black and Latino Achiever and was recently recognized as one of the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce Making Black History Awardees celebrating the work she’s done in STEM and as a scientist throughout her career.
Learn more about Wilkerson’s work at our International Day of Women and Girls in Science Event.
Peter Orji, Senior Director, Plant Manager
In his 17+ years at P&G, Senior Director, Plant Manager, Peter Orji has helped talent develop their careers and driven positive change for the company.
Peter has worked in Africa, Europe, Asia and now manages a fabric care plant in North America where he translates innovation to products like Tide Pods, Gain Flings, Dreft and Cheer to meet consumer needs.
His everyday work involves coaching his leaders on execution of P&G’s Integrated Work System (IWS) capabilities in the start-up of new lines and initiatives, as well as delivery of an efficient operation across the entire manufacturing facility. IWS is P&G’s proprietary and best-in-class, daily operating system that improves manufacturing reliability, reduces costs and empowers our employees to take 100 percent ownership over their direct manufacturing lines.
Outside of work, Peter is pursuing an innovation-centered program at MIT, exploring the challenges, opportunities and fundamental attributes of leading international organizations and how to best drive innovation.
With his vast experience, he finds it difficult to pinpoint one thing he’s most proud of, but he says, “My greatest accomplishment is helping select and nurture people to help them achieve their full potential.”
Ryan Butler, Brand Director, Secret North America
Innovator Ryan Butler started as an intern at P&G in the summer of 2013. Ten years later he is the Brand Director for Secret North America and has worked on several other personal care brands like Herbal Essence, Ivory and Olay.
Ryan currently leads Secret Deodorant, delivering superior sweat and odor protection in products like the Weightless Dry Spray Antiperspirant Deodorant. Ryan and the team also ensure Secret communicates product superiority in a relevant and relatable way that enables the brand to grow among Gen Z and multicultural consumers.
Ryan’s passion for his job comes from the people he works with and the impact he makes.
“I love many things about my job,” Ryan says, “but the part that I’m most passionate about is coaching and mentoring people. I love to see my people grow and lead bigger and bigger projects with confidence.”
He counts his biggest accomplishment as his work on P&G’s film The Look. “The film follows a Black man throughout his typical day to show what he encounters on an all too regular basis. ‘“The look’” that Black men (and women) get when out in public symbolizes a barrier to acceptance as a result of conscious and unconscious biases. When I heard about the work our A&I team was leading to uncover and understand unique insights about the Black man, I jumped at the opportunity to join the team. I knew I could bring my real-world experiences to this work to deliver an authentic film that resonated with people that look like me.”
Ashley Taylor, Senior Hair Care & Research Development Scientist
Dr. Ashley Taylor always wanted to work in the STEM space as a beauty expert.
With a PhD in analytical chemistry and a specialization in surface chemistry and nanomaterials, today Ashley is a P&G Senior Hair Care & Research Development Scientist.
“Living my dream has been a reality in my career,” she says. Combining her passion for beauty and STEM, Ashley helps to create product formulations for My Black is Beautiful and Pantene’s Gold Series, a breakthrough line designed to provide strength and moisture for women with relaxed, natural or transitioning hair.
“One of my greatest accomplishments was engaging in person with consumers and influencers at @Essence Fest 2022’s Beauty Carnival to spread awareness of our technologies in the Pantene Gold Series New Lengths Collection.”