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Heidrick & Struggles’ CEO Survey of the Swiss Life Sciences Sector Shows that Male, Swiss Nationals Dominate the Top Jobs

ZURICH, November 17, 2017 -- Heidrick & Struggles (Nasdaq: HSII), a premier provider of executive search, leadership consulting and culture shaping worldwide, has conducted specific research into the route to the top for CEOs of the 25 major Swiss Pharma, Biotech, Medtech and Healthcare companies currently listed on the Stock Exchange SIX in Switzerland.

Heidrick and Struggles’ demographic study finds that the typical Swiss Life Sciences CEO is predominantly male, holds a post-graduate qualification and is between 50 and 59 years old. The majority of CEOs in the sector have been promoted internally as opposed to external appointments. Of the 25 CEOs surveyed for the report, only 15 have held senior executive roles outside Switzerland. However, twelve CEOs originate from outside the country and four have a dual citizenship.

"The Swiss Life Sciences industry is a global community so it is surprising that so few Swiss Life Sciences CEOs have worked abroad”, said Oliver Schiltz, Partner at Heidrick & Struggles and member of the Life Sciences practice in Zurich. “With diversity high on the agenda of so many Swiss companies, it is also noteworthy that there is only one female CEO among the 25 listed companies. However, this number increases if we take into account companies not listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange; and overseas Life Sciences companies based in Switzerland."

Key findings include:
Age: The 25 CEOs are on average 54 years old. Simon Michel (Ypsomed), at 40 years old, is the youngest CEO; while Ronald Scott (Basilea), Jean-Paul Clozel (Idorsia) and Rudolf Hanko (Siegfried), all 62 years of age, are the most experienced. The average age to be appointed to CEO is 49 years old.
Job Profile: Eleven CEOs hold multiple positions. For example, Claus Martini, acts as CEO and CFO of IVF Hartmann. Six CEOs are also members of their own respective boards.
Promotion: Only nine out of the 25 CEOs have been promoted externally, including Marco Gadola (Straumann), Martin Schaufelberger (Coltene); and Richard Ridinger (Lonza). Andreas Wicki (HBM) and Jean-Paul Clozel (Idorsia) are not only CEOs but also founders of their respective companies. Out of the 14 CEOs promoted internally, Joseph Jimenez worked at Novartis for three years before becoming CEO, while Severin Schwan has been with Roche for 15 years prior to his appointment. Tim Dyer co-founded Addex in 2002 and acted, among others, as CFO before becoming CEO in 2013.
Length of Service: The average CEO tenure is six years. Patrick Amstutz (Molecular Partners) and Simon Waddington (Evolva) have only recently been appointed; while Idorsia (with CEO Jean-Paul Clozel) is newly founded. The longest serving CEO is Andreas Wicki who has been with HBM for 17 years. From 1995 to 2017, Etienne Jornod served as CEO and Executive Chairman of Galenica, before taking over the role as Executive Chairman of Vifor Pharma.
Education: With one exception (Antoine Hubert of Aevis Victoria), all CEOs have post-graduate qualifications. In addition, four out of the 25 CEOs have MBAs.
Background: The most common functional background for CEOs in the Life Sciences sector is sales/marketing (six, e.g. Joseph Jimenez of Novartis), finance (five, e.g. Severin Schwan of Roche), operations (four, e.g. Thomas Früh, Bachem) and engineering (four, e.g. Lukas Braunschweiler, Sonova). Only one CEO has a legal background (Alessandro Della Chà of Cosmo) and four were former scientists (e.g. Thomas Meier of Santhera and Stephan Rietiker of Lifewatch, a company currently in the delisting process after being acquired by BioTelemetry). Vasant «Vas» Narasimhan, who assumes the role of CEO of Novartis in February 2018, is also a former scientist.
International expertise: Only four out of the ten Swiss-born CEOs have gained executive experience abroad, ranging from two to ten years duration.
Nationality: Twelve CEOs are of foreign origin (Austrian, Germany, Italy, the UK and the US), ten have the Swiss passport, and four have double citizenship.
Gender: Of the 25 CEOs surveyed for this study, there is only one female CEO (Diana Harbort of Cassiopea).

About Heidrick & Struggles:
Heidrick & Struggles (Nasdaq: HSII) serves the executive talent and leadership needs of the world's top organizations as a premier provider of leadership consulting, culture shaping and senior-level executive search services. Heidrick & Struggles pioneered the profession of executive search more than 60 years ago. Today, the firm serves as a trusted advisor, providing integrated leadership solutions and helping its clients change the world, one leadership team at a time. For more information about Heidrick & Struggles, please visit

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