Viatris CEO Michael Goettler leaves

  • After less than two and a half years in the position
  • Praise, thanks and good wishes for Goettler
  • Scott Smith taking over
  • Goettler said 127 words

(exechange) — Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, February 27, 2023 — Michael Goettler, chief executive of Viatris, leaves his position. As announced by Viatris Inc. in a news release on Monday, February 27, 2023, Michael Goettler leaves his post as chief executive officer at the healthcare company, after less than two and a half years in the role, effective April 1, 2023.

The average tenure of CEOs who announced their departure over the past 12 months was 8.5 years. Around 23% of CEOs left their posts within three years. This is according to data collected by CEO-exit research firm exechange.

exechange tracks CEO departures at the 3,000 largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., examines the reasons CEOs leave and determines the Push‑out Score™, a measure of pressure on departing chief executives on a scale of 0 to 10.

Michael Goettler’s duties as CEO will be taken over by Scott A. Smith, most recently President at BioAtla, Inc.

Already a director

Smith has already been a member of the board of directors of Viatris. Directors-turned-executives represent a blend of outsider and insider.

They don’t have the constraints of a pure insider when it comes to leading painful changes or making unpopular decisions, and they have more company knowledge than a pure outsider.

Having been a director, Smith understands the expectations and dynamics of the board and has knowledge of Viatris’s organization, risk-management practices and strategy.

“Enter Phase 2”

Viatris did not give an explicit reason for Michael Goettler’s departure from the CEO post. Viatris stated: “Viatris Inc. (NASDAQ: VTRS), a global healthcare company, today announced that as it prepares to enter Phase 2 of its previously announced strategic plan in 2024, Scott A. Smith has been appointed by its Board of Directors to lead the execution of that plan as Viatris’ new Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2023.”

The top three reasons cited in corporate announcements for CEO departures over the past 12 months are performance issues (26.3% of cases), implementation of a planned succession (16.1%) and the statement that the time was right for a change (9.9%), according to exechange data. Other motives given for leadership changes included the outgoing CEO’s wish to pursue other opportunities (5.7% of cases), personal reasons (3.6%) and conduct issues (2.1%). Rather rarely stated reasons are career change (2.1% of cases), health problems (1.5%), disagreement (1.2%), the desire for more time with family (0.9%) and death (0.9%). Sometimes, more than one reason was given. In 29.9% of cases, no reason was given.

Precise information regarding Michael Goettler’s future plans was not immediately available.


Viatris said: “In the interim, current CEO Michael Goettler will be working closely with Smith to support a smooth transition and will then depart as CEO and as a member of the board.”

Share price decline since November 2020

The announcement follows a decline in Viatris Inc.’s share price of 24% since November 2020. November 2020 is the month in which Goettler’s tenure as CEO began.

In the position of CEO since 2020

Michael Goettler became CEO of the Company in 2020.

Goettler has served as Viatris’ CEO and on the Viatris Board since the closing of the transaction pursuant to which Mylan N.V. combined with Pfizer’s Upjohn business in a Reverse Morris Trust transaction to form Viatris on November 16, 2020 (the “Combination”).

His responsibilities include leading the overall performance of the Company and executing on the strategies developed in collaboration with the Executive Chairman and the Board, among other responsibilities.

From January 2019 until the closing of the Combination, Goettler was the Group President of Pfizer’s Upjohn division, where his responsibilities included leading the division’s performance and strategy, including commercial, R&D, operations and enabling functions.

From July 2018 until December 2018, Goettler served as Executive Vice President, Established Products Division, which subsequently became Upjohn.

Goettler also served as Global President of Pfizer Inflammation & Immunology from January 2018 until June 2018; Global President of Pfizer’s Rare Disease Business from January 2016 until December 2017; Global Commercial Officer, Senior Vice President for Pfizer’s Global Innovative Pharma Business from January 2014 until December 2015; and Regional President, Europe for Pfizer Specialty Care and Chair of the European Management Team from June 2012 until December 2013.

From 2015 until 2020, Goettler served on the board of directors of Population Services International, a global organization dedicated to improving the health of people in the developing world.

Since 2019, Goettler has been a member of the Tsinghua School of Pharmacy Advisory Board.

127 words by Michael Goettler

In the news release announcing his departure as CEO of Viatris Inc., Michael Goettler received praise, thanks and good wishes.

In announcing the leadership change, Michael Goettler said 127 words.

“I am pleased to welcome Scott”

Michael Goettler stated: “It has been my sincere honor to serve as Viatris’ first CEO. Having had the opportunity to help create a new kind of global healthcare company has been an experience that I will never forget and always value. I am incredibly proud of our eight consecutive quarters of successful performance and the work that we have done to set up Viatris for long-term success. I want to thank Robert, the entire Viatris Board of Directors, the management team and especially the thousands of Viatris colleagues with whom I have had the privilege to share this journey. I am pleased to welcome Scott into Viatris and am looking forward to supporting him during this transition, as he is well positioned to continue to build on the Company’s momentum.”

Over the past 12 months, 25% of all outgoing CEOs remained silent in the departure announcement, according to data compiled by exechange. Departing CEOs who did make a statement said an average of 110 words. The longest statement was 510 words. The shortest statement was 23 words. Leadership transitions in which departing CEOs provide conspicuously short, excessively long or no explanations for their move are statistically associated with elevated pressure and show an increased incidence of Push-out Scores above the critical threshold of 5.

36% of CEOs are forced out or fired

When CEO departures are announced, exechange determines the Push-out Score on a scale of 0 to 10 to assess how likely it is that the chief executive was pushed out or felt pressure to leave the position, with 0 being most likely a voluntary move and 10 being most likely a forced exit. Anything over a 5 indicates that there are valid reasons to believe an executive may have been pushed out.

Of the 335 CEO departures in the Russell 3000 Index evaluated over the past 12 months (February 27, 2022, to February 26, 2023), the average Push-out Score was 5.9, according to exechange data. References to conduct issues, disagreements and irregularities lead to the highest Push-out Scores. When performance issues, time with family or other opportunities were cited as departure reasons, the average Push-out Scores were also significantly elevated.

Around 36% of the CEO departure events from the past 12 months received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher.

In other words, in the past 12 months, one in three departing CEOs were forced out or fired.

Pressure in the health care sector far above the critical threshold

Some industries are under generally higher pressure than others, and CEOs are feeling the strain. In the past 12 months, the communication, health care and consumer staples sectors showed the highest average Push-out Scores. By contrast, pressure on CEOs was lowest in the real estate, utilities and financials sectors, as measured by average Push-out Scores.

In the health care sector, which includes Viatris Inc., the average Push-out Score over the past 12 months was 7.1, which is far above the critical threshold of 5.

In the health care sector, 28 exiting CEOs received Push-out Scores of 8 or higher over the past 12 months, indicating that they were most likely forced out or faced strong pressure to step down.

Push-out Score for Michael Goettler’s move determined

The Push-out Score regarding Michael Goettler’s move is explained point by point in the exechange report.

exechange reached out to Viatris and offered the company the opportunity to comment on the score.

Read the full story in the exechange report 10.2023 ($).