Shire's 'unflappable' CEO a foe of inertia

Shire's Angus Russell keeps his desk in a hallway. He made every day casual day at the specialty drugmaker. He races cars. He's an architecture buff who likes Nickelback and gets up at 5:30 a.m. He wants an iPad, but when he goes to buy one, they're sold out. And with a fiance in Montreal, an apartment in Philadelphia, two daughters in college in the U.K., and a house in "homage to Frank Lloyd Wright" under construction in Florida, he's often on the move.

Or so reports The Times of London, which dispatched a reporter to profile the man who's been CEO of Shire since June 2008. He's been with the company since 1999, when he joined as finance director. The Times' sources say he's "unflappable," despite always having had "a lot on his plate." For example as CFO, he handled financing for Shire's dealmaking and built its network of subsidiaries.

Another distinguishing feature: He doesn't like "the inertia of big business." He worked his way up at ICI, but spun off that company with its pharmaceuticals division (which became Zeneca). Then, soon after Zeneca merged with Sweden's Astra, he jumped ship to Shire. Now, he says Big Pharma needs to "restructure massively" 

Russell touts Shire's strategy of focusing tightly on a few areas--ADHD is the big one--plus such rare genetic disorders as Gaucher disease, a market the company was able to slip into early when Genzyme's much publicized manufacturing troubles created a shortage of its drug for that malady. He says Shire sells drugs that "sell themselves," adding that it's "not about sales and marketing" like Big Pharma is. For much more on Russell, check out the profile.

- read the Times story