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Novartis reshuffle begins under new CEO

Published on 13/03/18 at 09:23am

It’s a common strategy that newly appointed CEOs will try to change the direction of the company via rejigging leadership positions. GSK’s Emma Walmsley, for instance, oversaw a number of high-profile appointments in her first year in charge, notably by snagging Luke Miels from fellow UK company, AstraZeneca.

Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, has taken a similar approach by making some notable appointments to the senior leadership team at the company, pointing at his future vision of the company.

Bertrand Bodson, Chief Digital Officer, has been promoted to the head table, reflecting Novartis’ interest in becoming a leader in digital therapies and the use of digital in drug discovery.

At the start of March, Novartis announced that it had signed an agreement with Pear Therapeutics to develop an app for schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis, with the former already having gone through clinical trials.

Clearly, Narasimhan believes that pivoting the company in this direction earlier than its rivals will pay off in the long-term.

In addition to Bodson, Steffen Lang, Global Head of Novartis Technical Operations, has also been promoted to the senior team, alongside Shannon Klinger, Chief Ethics, Risk and Compliance Officer.

The latter appointment is particularly significant given the high-profile court case in Greece that the company is involved in.

Narasimhan said: “We are making these changes to harness the full strength of Novartis as we build the leading medicines company, powered by data and digital. The appointments of Bertrand Bodson, Steffen Lang and Shannon Klinger to the Executive Committee of Novartis will help us accelerate our efforts to lead in data and digital, increase our focus on operational execution, and reinforce our commitment to return more to society than we take.”

With these appointments announced, Novartis also revealed that its President of Novartis Operations, André Wyss, had decided to step down from his position to “pursue his career outside of Novartis”.

Wyss has been at the company since 1984 and was only promoted to his current position as of February 2016.

“André Wyss has decided to leave Novartis so he can start a new chapter in his career. His journey is unique: he has grown from a chemistry apprentice in manufacturing all the way to the Executive Committee as the President of Novartis Operations and Country President for Switzerland. I want to thank André for his leadership, his loyalty to our company as well as his significant contributions and business impact he had over the past three decades,” said Narasimhan.

It was revealed that Wyss’ role would be broken up into two positions, that of Novartis Technical Operations, taken on by Lang, and Novartis Business Services, which will be filled by Philippe Barrois, Head of Novartis Corporate Affairs, on an interim basis until a permanent candidate is found.

Wyss will remain in a supporting capacity after his official leaving date of 1 April, with the promotions and job title changes also occurring on the same date.

Ben Hargreaves

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