Pfizer now has a chief operating officer and, potentially, a successor to CEO Ian Read. It's Albert Bourla, who's headed up the company's Innovative Health unit since early 2016.
Adding a COO to the executive roster will allow Read to "spend more time focusing on the company's long-term strategic direction, ensuring continued R&D productivity and engaging with government policy and industry leaders on key issues facing the future of the healthcare industry," the CEO said in the statement.
It also sets up Bourla at Read's right hand, a spot that's auspicious for his future at the company, as the Wall Street Journal noted. Read is 64, and though he's not ready to make an exit, he did want to set up a plan for his succession when the time comes, the newspaper reported, citing an anonymous source.
Bourla will move into the newly created slot on Jan. 1, the company said in a Monday statement. He'll oversee global product development, sales and strategy across the company, Pfizer said. His promotion will trigger other management switches; John Young, who's been running Pfizer's Established Products unit, will move into Bourla's current job, and Angela Hwang, who heads up the company's inflammation and immunology business, will take over at Established Products.
In announcing the move, Pfizer emphasized Bourla's recent success at driving growth in the Innovative Health business, with 9% revenue growth so far this year. Cancer med Ibrance, which Bourla handled in his previous role as president of vaccines, oncology and consumer health, has been among the company's most successful recent launches.