New CEOs march to the top

You could say the trend started in 2005 when Merck tapped Richard Clark (photo) as its new CEO. Since then, at least 14 companies have either ushered new CEOs into their executive suite or appointed new head honchos for accession in 2008. Those who made the switch--or got the nod--in 2007 include the following:

  • Bernard Poussot (photo), Wyeth, formerly COO
  • Andrew Witty (photo), GlaxoSmithKline, president of GSK's pharma division
  • Gerard Le Fur (photo), Sanofi-Aventis, formerly executive vice president
  • Severin Schwan, Roche, formerly chief of the company's diagnostics division
  • John Lechleiter (photo), Eli Lilly, now COO
  • Angus Russell (photo), Shire, now CFO

What does this big reshuffling of management mean? Given that these guys were all promoted from within, it could mean more of the same; that's exactly what Shire said when it elevated Russell to the top spot. But, on the other hand, Le Fur has been talking radical and making some changes; recently, he said Big Pharma should cut its prices. So at some companies at least, the fresh new faces at the helm could herald new ways of thinking about Big Pharma, new ways of managing...perhaps even innovations heretofore unimagined.