Good thing Bayer's in Germany, CEO says. U.S. business culture is too impatient

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers

Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers--at one time a wannabe professional tennis player--knows what it is to push it to the limit. But he also knows that too much pushing can take its toll.

"I'm very aware of the strain and stresses on my body, both physically and mentally, and put a lot of measures in place to manage that," he recently told the Financial Times of the CEO's role. "I know from my tennis days what it is to manage your energy. On the day of a match you need to peak at, say, 2 p.m., not 5 p.m."

And too much pushing can take its toll on a company, too, he pointed out--especially in a big company with deep historical roots, like Bayer.

"You can stretch it, but when does it snap? [If] you force people along at a faster pace than they are capable of, you end up out there on your own and no one knows what you are talking about," he said.

That's one good thing about Germany's business culture, he told the paper--especially if you're running a company "with a very long timeframe." In the U.S. "pressure comes too quickly--particularly when things go awry.

"People start knocking on your door saying, 'Why don't you sell this' or 'I want to be on your board as an activist'," he pointed out.

That's not to say Dekkers hasn't shaken things up at Bayer since taking the helm. He's transformed the company from a chemicals conglomerate into one more focused on life sciences, most recently cementing that identity by floating Bayer's plastics unit, Covestro, in an IPO.

Now, though, he's ready to slow things back down--personally, that is. The 58-year-old skipper requested his contract be extended only until the end of next year, he announced last summer, and at that point, he plans to walk away from C-suite life for good.

With his children preparing to go off to college in the U.S., "I need flexibility to spend more time in the U.S. and not have to be at a meeting here on Monday morning that I cannot miss," he told the FT.

In the meantime, though, its hot-selling products are keeping up their speedy clips. Eye med Eylea, for one, posted a strong numbers in Q3, with sales jumping 69% year over year. That performance prompted Bayer to increase its growth guidance for the drug to 50% for 2015.

- read the FT story

Special Reports: The top 15 pharma companies by 2014 revenue - Bayer

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