Shire's Incoming Financial Head Honcho Finally Gets a Start Date


Shire plc will have its new chief financial officer in March. This morning, the company announced that Thomas Dittrich will assume his new role on March 19.

Dittrich will replace Jeff Poulton who left the company at the end of 2017 to take over the top financial spot at Indigo Ag Inc., a Boston-based startup that uses the plant microbiome to improve the productivity and sustainability of agriculture. Dittrich joins Shire from Sulzer Ltd, a Swiss-based global industrial engineering and manufacturing company. At Sulzer, Dittrich served as CFO, a position he held since 2014. Dittrich also served as temporary chief executive officer at Sulzer from August to December 2015. He was tapped by Shire in November. Prior to his time with Sulzer, Dittrich served as vice president of finance corporate planning and chief accounting officer at Amgen from 2010 to 2014.

Dittrich will join Shire as the company begins to break up into two separate internal business units – a Rare Disease Division and a Neuroscience Division. The two divisions are expected to operate as separate business units and could eventually be listed as separate companies. The division announcement followed a strategic review of Shire’s neuroscience business. That review revealed the neuroscience business needed more attention and investment separate from its rare disease areas, BioSpace reported earlier this month. Shire’s rare disease business accounts for 70 percent of the company’s revenue, Shire said.

Shire first announced the change to its model at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. By splitting into two, the company said each division will benefit from sharper management focus, greater strategic clarity, and an increased ability to deploy resources to key growth priorities. In a statement, Shire’s board of directors said the move will be “an important first step in enabling both divisions to maximize mid- to long-term product sales, cash generation, and innovation.”

In its announcement, Shire said the rare disease and neuroscience businesses have distinct strategic priorities. Over the course of this year, Shire said it will “optimize the portfolio for each of these two divisions, which may include business development activities such as partnerships, licensing agreements, and bolt-on acquisitions.”

Not only has Shire shaken up its business model, the company has also revamped its leadership team over the past few months to prepare for the change. In addition to Dittrich, Shire tapped Joanne Cordeiro as its chief human resources officer and member of the executive committee. Cordeiro has been with Shire since 2011. She took over the role held by Ginger Gregory, who recently left Shire for Biogen. In December, Shire announced it hired Andreas (Andy) Busch as its head of research and development and chief scientific officer. Busch joined Shire from Bayer where he served as head of drug discovery. Busch assumed the role this month. He replaced Howard Mayer who assumed the role of chief medical officer at Shire this month.

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