Momchil Jelev has achieved an international career at Johnson & Johnson by building on strong academics and internships.
Momchil Jelev ’08
Hometown: Sofia, Bulgaria
Majors: Political Science, International Studies
Speaks: Bulgarian, English, French, some German and Russian (German and French studied at Mac)
Currently: Working for Johnson & Johnson in Brussels, Belgium, in two departments: Government Affairs & Policy (GAP) and Environment, Health & Safety (EHS).
- GAP—I work mainly with the European Union institutions, monitoring new policy developments and regulations and going to meetings to relay the J&J position on specific issues. Then I liaise internally at J&J with those most impacted by EU legislation. With the EU market representing more than 500 million citizens, the company takes a lively interest in the Brussels legislative arena.
- EHS—I monitor and gather data on all issues related to J&J’s environmental compliance. For example, if the EU issues a piece of legislation banning a type of chemical, or requiring a type of labeling on product packaging, the EHS department is responsible for enforcing this internally.
Biggest challenge: J&J has more than 115, 000 employees worldwide, and is incredibly decentralized. In the Medical Devices and Diagnostics division alone, we own 20–30 smaller companies, who each have their own GA&P, marketing, and regulatory teams. So it is essential to know who is touched by each issue across the company.
Career building blocks:
- College employment and internships: I learned about communications and advocacy as a Chuck Green Fellow at the Center for Victims of Torture, working on an anti-torture campaign. At the Minnesota International Center and in my campus jobs, I learned a lot about marketing and development.
- Honors thesis: Transcending Westphalia, which discussed how the EU can one day represent a single federal entity, more the U.S., instead of different nation states. The subject came out of my study abroad at Maastricht through Macalester’s Globalization in Comparative Perspective program.
- King’s College, London: My master’s at King’s focused on the European Union as an international actor, and its historic involvement in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
- Post-Mac Internships: With an NGO in Bulgaria, a DC think-tank, and a risk analysis firm in London.
- Harwood Levitt Consulting: A public affairs firm (“public relations” in U.S. terms). I began as an intern, and left as a project coordinator, working on client accounts spanning the pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, energy and chemicals sectors. I was also in charge of managing the company’s website and social media presence. J&J was a client. That’s how I heard about my current position.
The future: I don’t have a specific goal. It could be a policy position (like my current one) within a business organization. Academia remains a possibility and a strong personal interest. I am considering going for a PhD in several years.