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Jeannette Hutton Pugh, Ph.D.


Ph.D. - Pepperdine University
M.S.E. - University of Pennsylvania
B.S. - Princeton University

Jeannette was born in Staten Island, New York, and raised in New Jersey. The last born of five siblings, Jeannette was a quick learner both in school and in extracurricular activities. She excelled academically, graduating as valedictorian from both grammar school and high school. Her innate leadership skills were exhibited at an early age as she served as editor of her elementary school yearbook, the President of her high school junior class and Student Council President during her high school senior year. She was encouraged by her parents to travel as a youth and was exposed to different cultures by journeying to Spain, Greece, Hawaii, Jamaica and Egypt. She was selected to attend the University of Arizona during the summer of her junior year in high school as part of a prestigious program called the LEAD (Leadership Education and Development) Program in Business and completed accelerated college preparation course work at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Her father often allowed her to join him at his work overseeing housing in the city of Newark, exposing her at an early age to the living conditions of economically disadvantaged populations and fueling her lifelong passion to help others. Inspired by her father’s vocation, she decided to leverage her love of mathematics by pursuing engineering at Princeton University. While studying at Princeton, Jeannette worked various jobs to contribute toward the cost of her education including selling IBM computers as a Student Sales Representative, winning the coveted position as top-selling representative on Princeton’s campus. She also found time to participate in the college choir and local community outreach efforts with her college thesis focused on implementing low cost solar housing in economically disadvantaged areas, demonstrating an enduring altruistic inclination.

As a New Jersey native, Jeannette received her B.S.E from Princeton University and eventually established an award winning Merck Women’s Network that put her in an informal leadership role for a global matrixed team of employees and earned her a seat at the table with the CEO and his leadership team as an advisor on how to best leverage and mentor women in the organization. Former Merck CEO, Dr. Roy Vagelos was a key inspiration for Jeannette to switch her career path from engineering (constructing buildings) to human resources (co-constructing organizations through people) tapping into her latent passion for developing people. Dr. Vagelos later continued to support Jeannette’s career development as he recommended her as one of few Merck high potential employees to attend the Executive M.S.E Program at the University of Pennsylvania (jointly administered by the Wharton School of Business and U of Penn’s Graduate School of Engineering) where she studied new emerging technologies and business implications of marketing them. Jeannette held a variety of increasingly responsible line management and Human Resources positions at Merck and continued her career growth in successive roles at Bristol Myers-Squibb, Amgen and Technicolor.

After supporting her mother through a battle with cancer until her passing in June 2013, Jeannette reaffirmed her commitment to cultivating people’s potential and talent not only as a certified Strategic Professional in HR (SPHR) but also as a certified yoga instructor. With over 20 years of unique international HR generalist/line management experience, Jeannette brings a proven track record in founding employee networks, leading transformational talent management & retention initiatives and serving as a strategic business partner within high performance organizations.

While pursuing her PhD in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University, Jeannette currently works full-time at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center as Executive Search Lead in their Human Resources and Organization Development department. The working title of her proposed dissertation is Transformational Triage: A Quantitative Analysis of Best Practices in Healthcare Leadership During Crisis.

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