Research-based biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca has been in the news lately due to their promising Covid vaccine trials that might now be linked to adverse reactions. The company has been trying to discover coronavirus-neutralizing antibodies since the pandemic started, and they have gotten close to their goal most recently. Paving the way is AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot, who has become the expected target of blame. However, AstraZeneca and Soriot claims that the company’s vaccine is still in the running for approval—even by this year—as long as trials resume soon. This CEO might just be the savior in this pandemic; and if you wish to know more about him, here are 10 things about Pascal Soriot you probably didn’t know.
1. He is French.
If his surname is not evidence enough, Pascal Claude Roland Soriot was born in France on May 23, 1959. The 61-year old businessman has been active in the industry since 1982, and he has served as CEO of the UK’s largest pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, since 2012. Soriot spent his entire childhood in France and only relocated outside of the country during is adulthood.
2. He loves animals.
We can only surmise this because of his studies, but we’re fairly sure that Pascal Soriot is a lover of animals. After all, the Frenchman took up veterinary medicine at the National Veterinary School at Alfort located in Maisons-Alfort in the southeastern suburbs of Paris. Young Soriot, however, didn’t pursue veterinary medicine practice. Instead, he enrolled again in school and eventually obtained his MBA with a major in Finance at HEC Paris, an international business school. Soriot claims that if he were not CEO today, he would be a horse vet. This was the first job he ever had, and horses are his favorite animals.
3. He was a salesman.
When he was 27, Soriot worked his first pharmaceutical job in Roussel Uclaf, which was one of France’s largest pharmaceutical companies during that time. Soriot worked as a salesman in Australia—a far distance from his hometown and everything he’s known. Traveling to Australia for work must’ve been an exciting prospect for Soriot, especially since he was looking to move up the pharmaceutical ladder in some way.
4. He worked in Tokyo.
There’s certainly a perk about being in sales, and travel is one of them. Not everyone may see it that way, but Soriot didn’t let that opportunity pass. German chemical company Hoechst AG bought Roussel Uclaf in 1997. By this time, Soriot had already been promoted to General Manager of Hoechst Marion Roussel in Australia. He needed to move to Tokyo in order to handle managing affairs there and promote the forward movement of the company outside of France.
5. He also worked in America.
It seems that Poroit may have gotten work experiences from a variety of places. He went to Australia, Tokyo, and even the United States for work. However, he didn’t move to the US until the year 2000. He joined a French pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Aventis, and he managed its US sector. By 2002, Soriot was chief operating officer of Aventis, USA.
6. He knows how to stand up for himself.
We believe that Soriot has made this very clear in recent events, but this article actually talks about how Soriot learned how to stand up for himself in the streets of Paris. The Parisian and his friends came across a rival group of teenagers one day, and circumstances led Soriot and his friends to resort to fighting to defend themselves. This kind of self-preservation has served Soriot well in his life and career. He would later on use this kind of fighting stance to save a company he loved.
7. He saved AstraZeneca.
There was a time when an American pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, was gearing up to acquire AstraZeneca. It was a close call for the French company, and it was only fortuitous that Soriot came into the picture as CEO when he did. Soriot stood his ground on AstraZeneca and fought the fight. Today, AstraZeneca is one of the global leaders when it comes to pharmaceutical research and development. Thanks to Soriot, AstraZeneca is the company that it is today.
8. He has his own style of leadership.
Soriot refers to his own style of leadership as “casual intensity.” The CEO could attribute this characteristic trait from his time at Genentech, a California-based biotech. Soriot picked up the leadership style at that company, where the culture was very much laid-back but deeply supported by a hard-driving work ethic. He tries not to take himself seriously. Soriot prefers to be relaxed and approachable but still be competitive at the same time.
9. He is humble.
Oftentimes, we find leaders that thrive on narcissism. Soriot seems to come from a different class altogether. His modest upbringing has taught Soriot that leaders are made and not born. He leads by example and always seeks to do the right thing. He believes that the highest achievement can be attained by simply taking steps to get better each day. Soriot believes that you have to surround yourself with people that share similar values. He’s actually the lowest paid CEO in the industry. It isn’t really a big deal because his salary is still substantial, but Soriot has more important things to think about.
10. He’s a fan of Greta Thunberg.
Who isn’t, really? Still, it’s impressive to hear that someone of Soriot’s caliber admires a young person like Greta Thunberg. Soriot admires Thunberg’s certainty and her courage when she speaks about her passion. In fact, Thunberg’s environmental advocacy has become an inspiration for the French CEO. Because of Thunberg’s insistence and influence, Soriot was inspired to turn their company into a zero-carbon emission company. It’s a huge undertaking that Soriot has already set in motion.
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Written by Allen Lee
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