After 40 Years with Pfizer, Ian Read Will Step Down as Chairman of the Board

Step Down

Ian Read, a stalwart figure at Pfizer for four decades, will step down from his role as executive chairman of the board of directors at the end of the year. Current Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla will succeed Read as chairman on Jan. 1, 2020 and will continue to serve as CEO.

Read, who has been with Pfizer since 1978, stepped back from his role as CEO of the company at the beginning of this year after serving in that role since 2010. He was named chairman of the board in 2011. During his time at the helm of the company, Pfizer marked 30 drug approvals in the United States and significant shareholder returns.

This morning, Read said it has been his “greatest privilege” to serve at Pfizer for the past 41 years. He hailed the colleagues he worked alongside and noted their “compassion, integrity, intellectual rigor and commitment to patients.” Those traits, Read said, are what makes Pfizer an “extraordinary company.” Read added that he as “tremendous confidence” in Bourla and the rest of the company’s leadership team. He predicted that Pfizer’s best days are yet to come as the company continues to develop treatments for a wide variety of diseases.

Bourla, who replaced Read as CEO earlier this year, said he is honored to have been chosen to succeed Read in the role of chairman of the board.

“It truly is an opportunity of a lifetime to be appointed chairman at such a dynamic time for Pfizer, the pharmaceutical industry, and the patients around the world who rely on our medicines and vaccines. Driven by our purpose – breakthroughs that change patients’ lives – we can have a meaningful impact on more people than ever was imagined,” Bourla said in a statement. Under Read’s leadership, Bourla added, Pfizer became a strong and stable company over his four decades of service.

Shantanu Narayen, the lead independent director on Pfizer’s board, called Read a “model of corporate leadership and integrity in the industry and beyond.”

While Read departs after 40 years at Pfizer, the show goes on with Bourla. Narayen hailed the company CEO, who previously served as chief operations officer prior to his promotion.

“The naming of Albert as Chairman is the result of a systemic and comprehensive succession plan undertaken by the board several years ago. Albert brings a unique set of skills that the board has observed firsthand during his tenure as CEO, and while serving as Chief Operating Officer and the leader of several global businesses. All of this makes him the logical choice to take on the role of Chairman at this important point in Pfizer’s history. We are confident that Albert, with his unwavering passion for patients, will do an excellent job leading our board, while continuing to advise management and shepherd the business,” Narayen said.

Prior to Read’s departure from his role as CEO, Pfizer offered Read increased compensation in part, to keep him from working for a competing company through March 31, 2021. The larger pay package involved a 61% increase in compensation to $27.9 million, BioSpace reported earlier this year.

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