Belén Garijo rises to the top at Merck KGaA amid exec board makeover
Belén Garijo is getting a big promotion to the top job at Merck KGaA, taking over from Stefan Oschmann as chair of the executive board and CEO starting next May.
Joining GlaxoSmithKline’s Emma Walmsley in the tiny club of women running a top 20 global pharma, she will be flanked by two seasoned biopharma vets who are joining the management ranks.
During her nine-year tenure — starting as COO of the biopharma business and later transitioning to the president/CEO of healthcare — Garijo oversaw a long and painful revamp for the German pharma R&D group, marked by the turnaround of the MS drug Mavenclad, successes it’s had with the Pfizer-partnered PD-L1, Bavencio, and the spinout of its consumer health division.
Johannes Baillou, who chairs the board of partners elected by the Merck family (which holds 70% of the group’s equity), called Garijo “an internationally very experienced and highly recognized manager.”
Her time at the company coincided almost perfectly with Oschmann’s, working hand in hand with him as vice chair of the executive board.
“He has especially driven the company’s turn to digital innovations and business models forward,” Baillou said in a statement.
Peter Guenter, the CEO of Almirall, has been tapped to fill Garijo’s healthcare role — an appointment that will bring him from Barcelona to Darmstadt, Germany. In early 2021 when he steps in, he will inherit a pipeline that’s heavily focused on oncology, immunology and the intersection of the two, with some early-stage collaborations with GSK and F-Star to steer.
His counterpart on the life science business sector will be Matthias Heinzel, who’s coming on board in April after wrapping a 17-year career at DuPont, where he’s most recently president nutrition & biosciences. Christian Ross, the head of integrated supply chain operations, will continue acting as the interim chief until then.
Known as MilliporeSigma in the US, the life science group — a “problem solver” that mainly does contract work for other biopharma companies — has been pouring sizable investments into manufacturing, beefing up capacity in newer modalities such as antibody-drug conjugate and gene therapy.
Kai Beckmann, CEO of Merck’s third business pillar of performance materials, and CFO Marcus Kuhnert, will make up the rest of the executive board in May.