Talk about a pivot. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla was one year into his tenure. Bourla, born and educated in Greece, is a 27-year veteran of the company. A trained veterinarian, he rose through the ranks of its animal health unit, and subsequently held leadership positions responsible for numerous businesses, including vaccines, oncology, and consumer products, before taking the post of chief operating officer in 2018. As he formally took the reins of the company on January 1, 2019, Bourla was focused on continuing Pfizer’s transformation into a pure-play biopharmaceutical company: placing its consumer health business in a joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline in 2019, preparing to spin off the Upjohn unit in a deal with Mylan, and rebranding the more than 170-year-old company to focus on its heritage of making scientific breakthroughs that could aid humanity. A year later, Bourla and Pfizer were intently focused on a COVID-19 vaccine, which the company developed in conjunction with BioNTech. In December 2020, it became the first major COVID-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use. Bourla sat down (via Zoom) with PwC global health industries leader Ron Chopoorian and strategy+business editor-in-chief Daniel Gross to discuss Pfizer’s strategy, and why he believes the “miracle” of the COVID-19 vaccine was not a result of luck.
Image: Albert Bourla - Wikipedia