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Bill George
Scholar/Former CEO

Bill George

Bill George is a management professor at the Harvard Business School, the former Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, Inc., and the author of several best-selling books on leadership. His latest release is 7 Lessons for
Leading in Crisis

Dan Vasella, Novartis CEO

The best business leader of 2009 is Dr. Dan Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis. During his 13 years as CEO, he has transformed Novartis from primarily a pharmaceutical company into a global leader in health care. The wisdom of his strategies is evidenced by the success he has realized in 2009. Consider these specifics:

· Vasella has had a long-term vision of Novartis' role as an exceptional research-and-drug-discovery organization. He has invested heavily in ground-breaking research that led to such breakthroughs as Gleevec, which has transformed the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). In 2002 he transferred Novartis' global research headquarters from Basel to Cambridge, Ma., and invested heavily in scientific talent there. In 2009 he announced that Novartis would create an equally large research effort in Shanghai.

· Vasella had the vision to acquire a vaccines company in 2006 that was one of the first companies to create the vaccine for treating H1N1, which now can be produced by a revolutionary cell production process.

· In 2005 he established the world's second-largest generics drug company through acquisition and internal development in order to provide much wider access to drugs throughout the world.

· In 2009 he received the International Humanitarian Award from B'nai Brith for Novartis' widespread distribution of Coartem for treating malaria in Africa and other developing countries.

· He has continued to be innovative on the management front, turning Novartis into a high performance, mission-driven global company that operates successfully in 130 countries.

Vasella recognizes that Novartis' mission must come first, and that success in discovering drugs and restoring people to health will results in long-term shareholder value. He has never been willing to sacrifice long-term investment to achieve short-term profitability. Having served on his board of directors in the past, I had the opportunity to see him fulfill this belief over a ten-year period of remarkable success.

Because he represents a role model of the long-term visionary CEO who does not bow to short-term pressures, I believe Dan Vasella is the best business leader of 2009.

By Bill George

 |  December 15, 2009; 5:53 AM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Bill - A great choice! Although I did not vote for Dan this year (I voted for Alan Mulally), I can certainly see your logic. Novartis has impressed me as a company with great results and great values!

Posted by: MarshallGoldsmith | December 15, 2009 8:43 AM
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