Drug manufacturing giant Lonza taps Roche/pharma ‘reinvention’ vet as its new CEO
Lonza chairman Albert Baehny took his time headhunting a new CEO for the company, making it absolutely clear he wanted a Big Pharma or biotech CEO with a good long track record in the business for the top spot. In the end, he went with the gold standard, turning to Roche’s ranks to recruit Pierre-Alain Ruffieux for the job.
Ruffieux, a member of the pharma leadership team at Roche, spent close to 5 years at the company. But like a small army of manufacturing execs, he gained much of his experience at the other Big Pharma in Basel, remaining at Novartis for 12 years before expanding his horizons.
Ruffieux highlights his main interest right at the top of his LinkedIn profile: “Reinventing Drug Manufacturing as Head Global Pharma Technical Operation at Roche.”
He’ll have plenty of opportunities for reinvention at Lonza, which has been undergoing some deep changes in revamping the business — designating new growth areas, investing in new facilities and righting the ship at a struggling special ingredients division. That’s all on his plate while following up as Moderna’s global manufacturing partner in a drive to deliver a billion doses of a new vaccine that’s never been commercialized before.
Lonza promoted Marc Funk to the top job in early 2019, but he exited suddenly last November after just 9 months, signaling some internal disarray in the executive suite.
The contract drug manufacturer has invested heavily in new cell and gene therapy capacity, part of an industry-wide expansion to meet the demands of a fast-growing side of the business.