10 Things You Didn’t Know About AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez

AbbVie Laboratories CEO Richard Gonzalez is a headliner, to say the least. He’s been an executive of AbbVie since 2011. He’s been instrumental in leading the corporation from one success to another in his time with them. When he first joined the company he was off to a good start, but he and AbbVie went through a rocky period. We’ll tell you all about it in our 10 things you didn’t know about Richard Gonzalez.

1. Abbott Laboratories didn’t give accurate details about his credentials

Perhaps the biggest controversy that Mr. Gonzales has encountered since becoming the CEO of AbbVie is over is professional credentials. Abbott Labs stated that he had earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston in biochemistry. He didn’t have a Master’s from the U of Miami in the same disciple as they claimed either. Abbott was called on the carpet for this.

2. He retired as president of Abbot Laboratories in 2007 but it didn’t last long

Just two years after Richard Gonzalez left his post as president of Abbott Laboratories, he returned. With all the fuss made over the mistake regarding his credentials, it was necessary for his to step away, but he wasn’t gone for long. In 2009, he was back and was designated as AbbVie’s CEO. AbbVie is a spinoff of Abbott Laboratories.

3. Richard Gonzalez is the CEO with no college degree

As it turned out, Gonzalez had actually attended the University of Houston and he did major in biochemistry, even though he didn’t earn his degree. He also served as a research biochemist at the University of Miami, so at least some of the information was right. He deserves to have credit for the knowledge that he gained from his classroom and on the job experience. What is even more remarkable is that he’s a powerful executive in the pharmaceutical industry who got there without an academic degree.

4. The challenge of Richard Gonzalez’ career

One of the greatest challenges surrounding the non-credential controversy for Gonzalez was gaining investor trust in his abilities. The biggest question became, would they be able to look past the education debacle and review his more than thirty-year track record? It’s apparent that they could because he was back as a high ranking executive within two years.

5. He’s not the only one to pad his bio

There have been hundreds of successful executives who have padded their bios and credentialing. Take, for example, Kenneth Lonchar of Veritas Software Corp. He claimed to hold an MBA from Stanford when he didn’t. There was also George O’Leary from Notre Dame who misrepresented his athletic and academic background, then resigned as head football coach. He went on to become the coach at the University of Central Florida since.

6. Richard Gonzalez became very ill

Richard Gonzalez endured serious health issues prior to retiring as president of Abbott Laboratories. He was diagnosed with throat cancer. After his treatment, he returned to executive work with the company as the head of Abbott Ventures, also known as AbbVie the investment arm of the medical technology business. He’s been in this role since 2010

7. The Board of Abbott Laboratories saw no real issue with his credentialing issue

Ms. Brotz was willing to speak out on behalf of Mr. Gonzalez and she publicly stated that “there is really no issue here with respect to his educational background and his ability to lead AbbVie.” This was a definite vote of confidence in Gonzalez’ leadership abilities and all the good that he had done for Abbott Laboratories to that point in time.

8. He was hand-picked the second time around

The records show that Richard Gonzales, after leaving as president and CEO in 2007, was hand-picked for the position of CEO for the AbbVie component of the company. This shows that his proven track record that had taken some thirty plus years of dedication to build had stood for something remarkable. He was welcomed back into the corporation with no question. It was to their advantage to have him at the helm because of his talent and experience.

9. He’s paid a handsome salary

As the CEO of AbbVie, Richard Gonzalez is paid very well for his service to the company. His total compensation for 2017 was estimated at $22.6 million and the year before it had been $21 million. It would seem that he is the highest paid CEO without a degree.

10. He’s still producing positive results for AbbVie

It’s easy to understand why Abbott Laboratories was so willing to overlook any misunderstandings about Mr. Gonzalez’ credentialing. As of 2017, he was still leading the company in high performance and showing growth. He’s a dynamic leader who gets positive results, degree or not.


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