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Jeffrey Kindler (Chief Executive): Pfizer

Jeffrey Kindler (Chief Executive): Pfizer

Why this quit is big: As a former McDonald’s executive, Kindler was hired in part because he was a pharma industry “outsider”, chosen to reinvigorate the company’s bureaucratic culture and help meet the need for change. Further, as a lawyer, Kindler was seen as better suited than others to navigate the industry’s growing legal issues. In his 4 ½-year reign, Kindler aggressively moved Pfizer into emerging markets where industry growth should remain strong over the next decade. In absorbing pharmaceutical and consumer products giant Wyeth, Kindler ensured that Pfizer will maintain its position as the world’s largest drug company for the foreseeable future.

Why it’s not as big as our Top 10: Under Kindler, Pfizer’s stock price declined far more than the industry average – more than one-third during his tenure. Furthermore, Pfizer’s pipeline is considered by many to have become stagnant under its non-scientist leader. Kindler ditched a number of once-promising future products. At the same time, Pfizer struggles to fend off serious challengers to cholesterol-reducing Lipitor®, the world’s best selling drug, as its patent expires in 2011. Some of Kindler’s choices began to impact his credibility with the company’s board and senior executives, such as refusing to name Ian Read (Kindler’s eventual successor) as his COO. Before he resigned, some observers questioned whether Kindler was losing control over too many challenges and making too many changes at once.

Johnson, Linda. “Pfizer CEO Jeffrey Kindler Unexpectedly Replaced.” 6 December, 2010.