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Meet Bertrand Bodson, Novartis’ new global digital strategy maestro for all things Big Pharma

Bertrand Bodson

Can a man who co-founded a company that tried to turn bragging rights into a viable online social network orchestrate an end-to-end digital strategy for the global pharma giant Novartis?

Bertrand Bodson intends to find out.

Novartis just appointed Bodson to be its new chief digital officer, with a guiding hand in the way that Novartis uses digital technology in everything from drug discovery and development to the way it interacts with doctors and patients around the world. The job also entails automating business processes — perhaps with a particular eye to winkling out costs, as Novartis is well known for.

Armed with a Harvard Business School degree, Bodson has an impressive digital resume.

He is coming over from Sainsbury’s Argos in the UK, which credited him with their shift to online retail, the kind of experience that will fit in well for the big drug sales operation. He also co-founded the social network site bragster.com in London, which let people post videos of the things they wanted to brag about or in response to a dare, winning bragging rights along the way. Guinness World Records bought out the company in 2010 and then folded it after angering their most devoted followers.

Novartis has been undergoing one of its regular revamps, consolidating R&D and rooting out old jobs in favor of new technologies over the past year. The company has long had one of the most feeble media groups in Big Pharma, though the Basel-based operation has scored a series of successes in the clinic and on the market.

Here’s Bodson’s prepared statement:

I am very excited to be joining Novartis to play a part in its efforts to reimagine medicine by leveraging digital on behalf of millions of patients and practitioners. While this will be one of the most important and disruptive challenges in the years to come Novartis, as a global leader, is particularly well positioned to drive this, and have even greater and sustainable impact on healthcare worldwide.


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