John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eli Lilly and Company, will retire as president and CEO and from the company effective Dec. 31, 2016. Lechleiter will continue on Lilly’s board of directors until May 31, 2017, as non-executive chairman, at which time he will leave the board. Lilly’s board of directors unanimously elected David A. Ricks, currently senior VP and president of Lilly Bio-Medicines, to assume the role of president and CEO and to join the board on Jan.1, 2017. He will also become chairman of the board on June 1, 2017.
“As Lilly transitions from our recent challenging period of patent expirations to a new era of growth, it is the logical time for a transition in company leadership,” Lechleiter commented. “Dave Ricks is a capable, decisive and energetic leader who is very well prepared to succeed me as CEO. He brings to the role broad experience in Lilly’s commercial operations along with an appreciation and understanding of research and development. He previously led Lilly’s business operations in Canada, China, and the U.S. Since 2012, he has successfully guided Lilly’s largest business area, Lilly Bio-Medicines, through a period of profound change. He is well respected inside and outside the company, consistently builds exceptional teams, and sets high standards of performance. Dave is well suited to help Lilly capitalize on the opportunities before it, as well as to confront the inevitable challenges that lie ahead. He will provide outstanding leadership for our company in the coming years.”
Reflecting on his tenure as Lilly’s top leader, Lechleiter remarked, “It has been a distinct honor and a privilege to serve this great company as its CEO these past eight years. I wish to thank all of my Lilly colleagues for their unfailing support as well as their extraordinary efforts throughout this period.”
Lechleiter has been head of Lilly since April 1, 2008, and chairman of the company’s board of directors since Jan. 1, 2009. He joined Lilly during 1979 as a senior organic chemist in process R&D. During the mid-1980s Lechleiter served as director of pharmaceutical product development for the Lilly Research Centre Limited in England. He later held positions in project management, regulatory affairs, product development, and pharma operations. In 2005, Lechleiter was named president and chief operating officer and joined Lilly’s board of directors.
“The prospect of leading Eli Lilly and Company is at the same time humbling and tremendously exciting,” Ricks commented. “Patients, physicians, health-care payers, and society as a whole expect a great deal from us. Together with my Lilly colleagues around the world, I look forward to meeting these expectations and, whenever we can, exceeding them.
“Lilly has the right strategy,” he adds. “We’ve built a strong pipeline and have a promising portfolio of recently approved new medicines. Navigating major patent expirations in recent years, we’ve sharpened our focus and improved our vigilance and agility. Now, we must realize our growth potential in an increasingly challenging global marketplace. We must focus on delivering better and better medicines to the patients who need them, and in so doing, benefit our employees, communities, and shareholders alike.”
Ricks’ successor as Lilly Bio-Medicines president will be named at a later date.
Since January 2012, Ricks has served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines, which encompasses the therapeutic areas of Alzheimer’s disease, urology, immunology, musculoskeletal disease and pain, as well as the company’s worldwide marketing function. He serves on the board of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and has served as co-chair of the Trans-Atlantic Business Dialogue.
After coming aboard Lilly during 1996 as a business development associate, Ricks held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada, where he served successively as director of pharmaceutical marketing, national sales director, and general manager. Ricks was subsequently named president and general manager of Lilly China before becoming president of Lilly USA during 2009.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Purdue University and joined Lilly following completion of his MBA from Indiana
University. Ricks chairs the board of governors for the Riley Children’s Foundation and in 2015 chaired the United Way of Central Indiana’s annual campaign. He additionally sits on the executive board of the Crossroads of America Council of Boy Scouts of America, and on the advisory board of the Purdue University Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.