After 3-decade Merck career, Adam Schechter jumps for LabCorp CEO job

Merck
Adam Schechter, who's been at Merck for 31 years, is leaving to become CEO of LabCorp. (Merck)

Thirty-one years is an eternity to spend at one pharma company, but Merck & Co. executive Adam Schechter has achieved that very feat. Now, he’s on to the next chapter as diagnostics giant LabCorp tapped the pharma veteran to be its next CEO. 

As of November 1, Schechter will take the reins as LabCorp’s president and CEO. He'll replace that company’s longtime chief David King, who is bumping up to executive chairman.

Schechter has worked at Merck since 1988 in roles of increasing responsibility, starting as a sales rep and working his way up to EVP and president of global human health.

Late last year, Merck announced that Schechter would leave the role Dec. 31, 2018, and move into a CEO advisory position. At the time, the company promoted Frank Clyburn to chief commercial officer and Michael Nally to chief marketing officer.

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Aside from his Merck responsibilities, Schechter has also been a LapCorp director since 2013. In January, he became the company’s lead independent director.  

With the move, Schechter will be leaving pharmaceuticals but staying in healthcare. LabCorp is a diagnostics giant that more recently has transformed from a “pure-play U.S. testing laboratory into a leading global life sciences company,” Schechter said in a statement. Aside from diagnostics, the company also provides drug development services. 

“I am deeply committed to continuing the company’s noble mission and I look forward to strengthening our leadership position in global life sciences as we execute our strategy,” he added. 

King, who’s served as LabCorp’s CEO since 2007, said he and LabCorp’s board have been working for “several years” on a succession plan. The company concluded Schechter’s “experience in global healthcare, demonstrated leadership capabilities and strategic contributions as a board member position him perfectly to succeed me as CEO," the outgoing helmsman said in a statement.

“He knows our industry, our company, and our strategy, and is uniquely suited to continue to build on the power of our combined organization,” King said. 

Schechter started at Merck in 1988 as a sales rep and worked his way up the ranks over the decades. He’s served as the company’s U.S. pharma head, global pharma and vaccines leader, and, most recently, its EVP of global human health. In the latest role, he worked to make the company’s medicines and vaccines available to people across the globe.

RELATED: Congrats, Ken Frazier: Merck's board scraps mandatory retirement to keep CEO at his post 

During his time at the drugmaker, Schechter shook up Merck’s commercial model, oversaw the integration of Schering-Plough and more. His departure comes after Merck moved to keep its current CEO, Kenneth Frazier, past age 65. Previously, the company required CEOs to retire at that age. 

LabCorp generated $11.3 billion last year. The company has 61,000 employees around the globe and conducts business in more than 100 countries. 

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