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Pharmaceuticals seek fresh start with new CEOs
  • By So Jae-hyeon
  • Published 2018.10.05 15:44
  • Updated 2018.10.05 15:44
  • comments 0

Several pharmaceutical and biotech firms have appointed a new CEO or a vice president to boost the overall corporate competitiveness and enhance main businesses.

These drugmakers include Genexine, Samsung Pharm, Ahn-Gook Pharm, Boryung Pharmaceutical, and Handok.

In September, Handok appointed Cho Jeong-yol as president and CEO who had various business careers. Cho accumulated experience in consumer products in Unilever Korea and Loreal Korea. She served as CEO of Pizza Hut, Gallery Hyundai, K-Auction, and SoCar. In the pharmaceutical sector, she worked as Asia-Pacific regional strategy marketing director at MSD.

(From left) Handok CEO Cho Jeong-yol, Boryung Pharm CEO Ahn Jae-hyun, Genexine Vice President Kim Gwang-ho, Samsung Pharm Vice President Jeon Jae-gap, and Ahn-Gook Pharm Executive Director Jeong Sang-yeop

While some worry that Cho lacks pharmaceutical experience, others say she is fit for Handok that seeks to become an integrated healthcare service group.

Handok maintained focus on the pharmaceutical business on the one hand but released Ready-Q to tap the hangover relief drink market on the other. Recently, the company rolled out Souvenaid, a drink that helps dementia treatment.

Souvenaid is more of a consumer product, rather than a medical one. Handok needs a consumer-friendly sales network as the company will sell Souvenaid online through hospitals and clinics. Some observers said Cho’s business capability and Souvenaid sales would be tested simultaneously.

Boryung’s new CEO Ahn Jae-hyun is also drawing attention from the pharmaceutical industry.

Ahn entered Cheil Industries in 1987 and served as head of business support division. In 2012, he joined Boryung and worked as head of the business operation support division and head of the group’s strategy and planning division. Last year, he took office as CEO of Boryung Holdings.

Within a year, Ahn was picked by Boryung Pharm’s owner and Chairman Kim Eun-seon to become CEO of Boryung Pharm.

Observers said Ahn’s appointment as head of Boryung Pharm signals the official shift of Boryung’s management by the owner to the one by a professional manager. Ahn is tasked with successfully supporting the handover of the ownership and securing the company’s financial health.

Genexine has appointed Kim Gwang-ho as vice president. Kim previously served as head of North Asia at Johnson & Johnson.

After working for Samsung Engineering and Samsung Techwin, Kim was head of Mars Korea and Mars North Asia. He later expanded his expertise in healthcare and served as president of North Asia at Johnson & Johnson. At Genexine, Kim has been appointed as the chief operating officer.

Genexine is working on the flagship pipeline of long-acting growth hormone as well as the development of immunotherapies. Kim’s job is to secure license-in and license-out deals with multinational pharmaceuticals and to secure financial soundness.

Samsung Pharm scouted Jeon Jae-gap, a former CEO of Huons, as vice president. Jeon is a graduate of Seoul National University’s College of Pharmacy. He previously worked as executive director at Kwangdong Pharmaceutical and Boryung Pharm. Jeon is expected to focus on Samsung Pharm’s overall competitiveness.

As Jeon has engaged in various business fields at Huons, including production, development, new business, export, sales, and research, he is the right person to find a new growth engine for Samsung Pharm now under the wings of GemVax & KAEL, industry watchers said.

Ahn-Gook Pharm, which has been struggling with stagnant sales, has also brought in a new talent to seek new business opportunities.

The drugmaker hired Jeong Seong-yeop, who has worked at Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s research institute for 24 years since joining Hanmi Pharm in 1994.

Ahn-Gook Pharm has not been aggressive in expanding its business since it has concentrated on synthetic chemical drugs. Although the company has functional foods and over-the-counter medicines, their sales have been sluggish for years.

With Jeong as vice president, Ahn-Gook aims to boost the revenue and revitalize the business, industry watchers said.

“Some companies want to enter the pharmaceutical market, and startups are rushing to hire pharmaceutical professionals. Even some retirees are receiving job offerings. Their values are rising in the pharmaceutical job market,” said a high-ranking official at a drugmaker.


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