Strategy & Operations » Leadership & Management » Former Pfizer CFO is pharma giant’s CEO

Pfizer’s new chief executive has risen to the role after spending time as chief financial officer of its Mexican business and starting his 32-year career there as an auditor.

Ian Read, who was promoted into the role today after the shock departure of Jeffrey Kindler, has been group president of the pharmaceutical giant’s worldwide biopharmaceutical business since 2006, overseeing its primary care, specialty care, oncology, established products and emerging markets operations. That business accounts for 85 percent of Pfizer’s annual revenues.

Read, who received his BSc. in chemical engineering from London University Imperial College in 1974 and four years later qualified as a chartered accountant with the ICAEW, takes on the CEO role with immediate effect, as Kindler said he was leaving to spend more time with his family – though reports citing various analysts suggest that he was forced out amid a depressed share price and concerns over his acquisitive growth strategy. Pfizer will elect a non-executive chairman from its current board membership in two weeks’ time.

Read joined Pfizer in 1978 as an operational auditor and spent the 1990s in its Latin American operations as CFO for Mexico and later country manager for its Brazilian business. In 1996 he became president of its international pharmaceuticals group which covered Latin America and Canada, adding Europe in 2002 and later, the Africa and Middle East regions. He is also on the board of directors at Kimberly-Clark as a member of its management development and compensation committee, and its nominating and corporate governance committee.  

Kindler said that Read’s appointment comes as Pfizer approached the one-year anniversary of its acquisition of Wyeth and said he was “more than ready” to take on the chief executive job.

“I have concluded the time is right to turn the leadership of the company over,” he said.