Director, Healthcare and Consumer, at Warburg Pincus
Fred Hassan is a director at the private equity firm Warburg Pincus. His board memberships include Precigen, Prometheus Biosciences, Theramex, IntegraConnect and Vertice. He is also the chairman of Caret Group.
Fred Hassan is the former chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Schering-Plough Corporation. Prior to joining Schering-Plough in April 2003, Hassan was chairman and chief executive officer of Pharmacia Corporation – a company that was formed in March 2000 as a result of the merger of Monsanto and Pharmacia and Upjohn. Hassan joined Pharmacia & Upjohn as chief executive officer in 1997.
Previously, Hassan was executive vice president of Wyeth, with responsibility for its pharmaceutical and medical products business. He was elected to Wyeth’s board of directors in 1995. Earlier in his career, Hassan spent 17 years with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals (now Novartis) and headed its U.S. pharmaceuticals business.
Hassan received a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Imperial College of Science and Technology at the University of London and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. Hassan has chaired significant pharmaceutical industry organizations including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations (IFPMA). Hassan is also a member of The Business Council.
Fred Hassan’s book, “Reinvent - A Leader’s Playbook for Serial Success,” was published in February 2013 by Wiley and has been discussed in many global organizations, including the World Bank. In 2014 he was selected by a CNBC panel as one of the 200 people who have had the greatest influence on business in the past quarter century.
Why We Chose Him:
Fred Hassan long ago established himself as a leader in the pharmaceuticals industry, and has more than three decades as an investor, board member and executive of global pharmaceutical corporations. That kind of renown indicates knowledge of the industry itself, and his leadership impacts the performance of his company within the industry at the macro level. For our Social Capital section, we recognize him for his leadership within a company and his relationship with employees.
“The job of the CEO is to bring out the best in their people, not only in terms of their willingness to give their best to the company but also in setting high goals for themselves and actually believing they can achieve more than what they thought they would achieve,” he says, noting that the most frequent advice he gives people is about how they behave as CEOs with their own management team: “It’s about getting people to be more confident in themselves and having their sights raised as much as possible.”
His record is testament to the power of that approach. Evidence the turnarounds he orchestrated at Pharmacia-Upjohn and Schering-Plough when they faced what looked like insurmountable problems. “In both cases,” he says, “I made engaging and motivating frontline managers a cornerstone of my turnaround strategy.”
Fred has found that few CEOs think it’s their job to mobilize frontline managers. At most, they may practice some version of “management by wandering around” to stay in touch with different parts of the organization. He believes it is critically important to, instead, actually single out frontline managers and spend significant personal time in direct interactions with them, and use those interactions to mobilize the entire organization. “I call this approach ‘leading through the front,’” he says.
After all, it is the frontline managers who must motivate and bolster the morale of the people who do the work -- those who design, make and sell the products or deliver services to customers. Not only do they oversee the execution of a company’s business strategy, but they are an all-important feedback loop that allows the CEO to stay abreast of the latest developments in the business – which may even go counter to prevailing wisdom.
Fred recalls one instance involving the sales force when he worked at a company that developed a glaucoma drug for the Japanese market, but since that was not their core business, they wanted to partner with a Japanese distributor.
“But when I talked to our salespeople in Japan, they told me that being able to offer the glaucoma drug would really help them with their customers,” recalls Fred. “They also believed they could do a better job than the Japanese distributor because they were better trained as sales professionals. We took the courageous step to give the product to our own people, which turned out to be a wise decision. The glaucoma product sold very well in its own right, and sales of other products also benefited because salespeople were motivated to do the best they could.”
So, the first step for a CEO who wants to lead through the front is to make time for regular interactions with selected frontline managers. But it’s important the CEO be willing and able to get into the nuts and bolts of the business when doing so. “If you’re in a meeting with frontline managers and don’t know what makes their part of the business tick, they’ll sense it immediately. They may even call you on it,” he explains.
Fred admits he is often met with skepticism when he suggests executives lead from the front, as they are concerned it would undermine their company’s middle managers. Admitting it’s a legitimate question that applies to senior managers as well, he says, “You have to strike a delicate balance between empowering frontline managers and making sure your actions and responses don’t short-circuit the formal chain of command.”
However, he likes to recall a moment with one company when he first realized the notion of leading through the front had taken hold. It was soon after they had rolled out a companywide frontline-management training program and he was worried it would be difficult to persuade senior managers to make time to host the kickoff meetings for the three-day training sessions.
“To my surprise, there were so many volunteers that we had to turn people away. They realized that empowering the front line had the secondary effect of empowering them as well. What leader could ask for more?”
Tenure at Current Position
|Warburg Pincus||Chairman and CEO at Schering-Plough Corp|
|Imperial College of Science and Technology at the University of London, B.S. in chemical engineering; Harvard Business School, MBA|