Abbott Labs CEO to step down, company names successor

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Abbott Labs CEO to step down, company names successor

By Sandra Levy - 11/13/2019

Miles White will be stepping down as Abbott Labs CEO on March 31, 2020, after a 21-year tenure, the company announced Wednesday. White, whose tenure has been the second-longest for a non-founder in today's S&P 100, will remain executive chairman of the board. 

Alongside the announcement of White's planned departure, Abbott also said that its board has unanimously appointed president and COO Robert Ford, a 23-year Abbott veteran, to succeed White as CEO. He has been elected to the board.

"I am honored to have had the privilege to lead such a great institution and to have worked with so many talented individuals over the years," White said. "One of the primary goals in my career has been to leave the company well-positioned for the people who count on us. Today, the company is the strongest it has been during my tenure, and I am confident that Robert will lead Abbott successfully into the future. He is highly respected, has helped us shape the company during the last several years and understands the forces driving change in healthcare."

Abbott said Ford will become the 13th CEO of Abbott in its 131-year history, continuing its legacy of appointing CEOs from within the organization. Ford joined Abbott in the company's diabetes care business in 1996. He was appointed president and COO in October 2018.

Ford has served in many leadership roles within the company, including in the nutrition and medical device businesses. As executive vice president of medical devices, he oversaw the integration of St. Jude Medical, Abbott's largest acquisition, and led Abbott's diabetes care business and the launch of FreeStyle Libre.

"It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead Abbott," said Ford. "I thank Miles for his mentorship, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do what Abbott people do best – anticipate where science, medicine and technology are going and innovate to best serve our customers, shareholders and communities." 

White was named chairman and CEO in 1998. He has strategically reshaped Abbott several times, most recently building Abbott's leadership in medical devices and diagnostics with the additions of St. Jude Medical and Alere, and internal advances like FreeStyle Libre, the world's leading continuous glucose monitor, and the Alinityfamily of diagnostics systems.

"We are deeply grateful for the leadership and strategic direction Miles has provided over the past two decades," said William Osborn, lead director and chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee of Abbott's board of directors. "He embodies the values of the company in every respect and his impact on employees, shareholders, and most importantly, patients, will continue for years to come. He has positioned Abbott well for continued top-tier growth and innovation and we thank him for his countless contributions.

"Robert is the right person for Abbott's future. He is a proven Abbott leader with significant experience running Abbott's global businesses. We're confident he will continue Abbott's outstanding legacy of success," added Osborn.


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