When J. Michael Jensen graduated from UW-Madison in 1973 with his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, the list of potential employers included a racetrack out west or a consumer-products company in Cincinnati. Jensen wisely chose the latter and began a 34-year career with Procter and Gamble that enabled him to couple his love of technology with his passion for innovation. After holding several positions in research and development, Jensen retired in 2008 as global vice president of research and development for Procter and Gamble.
Throughout his career, Jensen was especially adept at creating new or reinventing existing Procter and Gamble businesses whose products had major effects on consumers’ lives. Among those are Always fem-care, Pampers diapers, Swiffer cleaning products, and Febreze air-fresheners. He also led teams that, for example, developed calcium-citric-maleate for products such as orange juices, packaging that keeps products such as Folgers coffee fresher, and technology called Nutri-Star that helps provide essential nutrients to millions of children around the world. In his leadership roles, he implemented cost-effective, innovative processes and new plant designs for Procter and Gamble businesses in developing countries and developed new business models and partnerships. Jensen also devoted energy as a recruiter to developing the research and development organization itself. Today, thanks to his efforts, hundreds of Badger alumni lead Procter and Gamble initiatives worldwide. Additionally, he has been a champion — both inside and out of Procter and Gamble — for building a diverse, inclusive culture.
Jensen, who now works as a consultant, almost didn’t become an engineer. Following in his parents’ and grandparents’ footsteps, he enrolled at UW-Madison. He planned to major in math and ultimately become an astronomer. However, two years into his education, he realized that line of study didn’t align with his passion, which was developing solutions that improve people’s lives.
He long has been a community leader in Wyoming, Ohio, where he and wife Mary, a retired Procter and Gamble executive, live. He has served as board member of the Wyoming School Foundation and coached myriad youth sports. Jensen also serves on the UW-Madison Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering visiting committee and the engineering diversity board.
He enjoys the outdoors and, in an effort to achieve net-zero energy use, he and Mary recently built a lake home in Madison that includes geothermal, active solar, and other energy-saving principles. The couple have four children: Katy, 28; Cassie, 26; Pat, 24; and Susie, 22.