Rapid Industry Changes No Concern to J&J IT Director, Stevens Alumna

2/29/2012

Adjusting to the times is Tammy Rambaldi’s specialty. Over the course of her career, the Stevens alumna has kept up with waves of change in information technology, always anchored by the computer science foundations she gained in her undergraduate work.

“Computing languages and tools change frequently, but the basics of business analysis, data analysis and coding don’t,” said Rambaldi, who earned her B.S. in Computer Science from Stevens in 1992. “Stevens provided the groundwork to be successful in an information technology career.”

Rambaldi always had a good head on her shoulders. A Clifton, N.J. native, she was valedictorian of her high school with an aptitude for mathematics and an interest in problem-solving. Even as a teenager, she was already thinking long-term about what course of study would offer her the most opportunistic career path, especially in the sluggish economy of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

“I wanted to major in something that would give me job options, even as a new college graduate,” she said. “At the time, Computer Science was a fairly new major at Stevens, and I had no programming experience going in. But it was a growing field and that was attractive to me.”

It didn’t take long for Rambaldi to realize she’d made the right choice. While commuting to Stevens and pursuing the five-year plan, she worked part-time for a computer reseller, which exposed her to practical applications of her undergraduate coursework and solidified her interest in the field. Then, through Stevens Career Services, Rambaldi was offered a full-time job at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) even before she graduated.

“It was a terrible economy and the job market was awful, but Stevens students all did just fine,” she recalled. “It was clear employers saw the value of a Stevens education.”

Upon graduation, Rambaldi began a six month trainee program at J&J in which she was exposed to all of the different IT functions with the company, from the data center to help desk support to programming. She ultimately took on a permanent position in programming while also pursuing her MBA in Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU), a degree she earned in1998.

Rambaldi’s first chance to manage a team came when she left J&J for a position at Covance, a contract research organization which ran clinical trials. There, Rambaldi worked as a senior programmer and clinical systems team technical manager.

“This was leading into the dotcom era when IT was really hot,” Rambaldi said. “There were lots of really fun things to do and it was a great environment for my first managerial job.”

After three years at Covance, Rambaldi went to work for Pfizer, although that wasn’t originally her intention. In 1999, she was hired to be an IT manager at Warner-Lambert, a major pharmaceutical company. But even before her first day of work, Pfizer and Warner-Lambert merged. She jokes that she might have been the last person the company ever hired.

Over the next seven years at Pfizer, Rambaldi managed larger and larger IT teams that supported a number of business functions, including R&D systems, supply chain and data warehousing.

In a coincidental twist, Pfizer was then acquired by J&J, and Rambaldi ended up back at the same company that launched her career.

Today, Rambaldi combines her background in technology, computer systems and the healthcare industry to manage one of the most important corporate functions at J&J – IT compliance. As director of security and privacy and IT risk management, she is responsible for IT security and information privacy across J&J Pharmaceuticals businesses, a heavily-regulated area.

Always at the edge of her field, this is the space where Rambaldi wants to concentrate her career in the near future.

“There is so much change in information security, particularly around mobile devices,” Rambaldi said. “There is always something new to learn and do.”

She’s certain she can continue to keep up with the rapidly-evolving industry, even as she raises her seven-year-old daughter and learns Mandarin Chinese with her husband in her free time.

“The key to coming up with a good IT end product is knowing how to architect a solution, and Stevens gave me that knowledge,” she said.