What should a CFO job description entail for a company that’s changing the world?

Good morning, 

For the past 18-plus months since the onset of the pandemic, Pfizer Inc. has been busy changing the world with its revolutionary COVID-19 vaccine. And now, the pharmaceutical giant will have C-suite changes. 

Pfizer announced on Wednesday that Frank D’Amelio, CFO and EVP of global supply, will retire after an almost 15-year career with the company. Mike McDermott, with Pfizer for 18 years and currently president of global supply, was named EVP, chief global supply officer. McDermott will report to chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, effective January 1, 2022. 

Frank D’Amelio, Pfizer CFO and EVP of global supply / Courtesy of Pfizer

Pfizer has initiated an external search for a new CFO. D’Amelio will stay on board through this process. I contacted the company to find out what they’re looking for in a new finance chief. But Pfizer declined to share further details beyond the announcement. 

D’Amelio joined Pfizer in 2007, and during his tenure as CFO, the company has “generated close to $150 billion in market cap growth,” according to the press release. He led several acquisitions and partnerships valued at nearly $200 billion, such as the acquisition of Wyeth. 

“Frank has driven a strategic vision for the company’s financial success, and he leaves Pfizer in a strong position for future growth having been instrumental in our multi-year transformation to an industry leading, science-based biopharmaceutical company,” Bourla said in a statement. 

“Strategic vision” has become a major focus of the finance chief’s role over the years. “Traditionally, the CFO job was all about making sure you can close your books the right way, talking to investors, and advising the business on the right decisions,” Ankur Agrawal, a partner at McKinsey & Company, recently told me. “But making sure your company is transforming, the strategy of the company is in the right direction, making sure talent is aligned with the right business priorities—I think those are the areas where the scope of the role is increasing.” Agrawal added: “The job description of the CFO is the chief decision enabler. And the core part of the job doesn’t change.”

During Fortune’s CEO Initiative conference in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Bourla opened up about his company’s success in creating a COVID-19 vaccine, and his leadership style. “It was a time where people needed to rise to the occasion, no matter what,” he said of the company leading the charge for a vaccine. To prevent Pfizer scientists from being slowed down, the company focused on ending internal and external bureaucracy, Bourla said. Pfizer didn’t take money from the government, so scientists wouldn’t have to spend their time detailing how they were spending public funding, he said. As CEO, Bourla also made sure to embed himself with teams so decisions could be made faster, he noted. The new CFO will need to be a partner to Bourla in strategic decision-making. 

Pfizer announced on Tuesday that it had signed a new licensing agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP), a UN–backed organization, that will help supply Pfizer’s antiviral COVID-19 pill to lower- and middle-income countries. “We must work to ensure that all people—regardless of where they live or their circumstances—have access to these breakthroughs.” Bourla said in a statement.

Pfizer’s continued commitment to equitable access requires a balance of profiting from its innovations with the duty to do the most good for many people. Whoever the new CFO is will have to be great at supporting those same imperatives while maintaining the balance sheet. In Q3 of 2021, Pfizer’s revenue increased 134% year over year to $24.1 billion for the quarter.

D’Amelio also oversaw Pfizer’s manufacturing network and helped guide company through “one of its most challenging periods as it worked to address the COVID-19 crisis,” according to the announcement.

It seems the next finance chief will need to be ready to lead on day one. 


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Willis Towers Watson's 2022 Global Medical Trends Survey found employer-sponsored healthcare benefit cost trends are expected to increase, on average 8.1%. Next year, insurers expect cost trends to be as high as 14.2% in Latin America next year, while in the U.S. costs are projected to increase by 7.6% Medical insurers expect healthcare cost trends to increase beyond 2022, with over three-quarters projecting higher or significantly higher costs over the next three years, the report found. Globally, 52% of insurers offered telehealth across all plans. Of these, 85% offered telehealth at no additional cost.

Courtesy of Willis Towers Watson

 

Going deeper

Samsung's 2021 Future of Mobility: Finance and Banking Report, released on Nov. 17, found mobile tech can "make or break your talent strategy." About half of financial employees surveyed said they're unsatisfied with their companies’ mobile tech. And 69% said they would likely switch companies for access to better tech, the report found. The majority of both IT decision makers (93%) and employees (86%) agreed that in the next five years, their organizations need to improve tech infrastructure. But when it comes to data security in remote work, 63% of IT decision makers said they have concerns compared to just 6% of employees. "For financial firms to compete in the future of work, they must support mobile tech that enables in-depth personal connections and offers world-class security," according to the report. Samsung surveyed 500 IT decision-makers and 500 employees in the U.S. working in financial services and banking.

Leaderboard

Ravi Chopra was named CFO at Bugcrowd, a crowdsourced cybersecurity platform. Chopra brings over 25 years of finance experience to Bugcrowd. He was previously CFO at SonicWall, a cybersecurity company, which he helped transition into an independent company post divestiture from Dell. Prior to joining SonicWall, Chopra held finance positions at Juniper, Cisco Systems, Deloitte Consulting and Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm.

Kevin J. Gallagher was named CFO at MindMaze, a digital neuro-therapeutics company, Gallagher joins MindMaze's executive team with over 25 years of experience in financial leadership. Most recently, he was managing director of banking, capital markets & advisory for the Global Healthcare team at Citigroup, Inc. He previously served in a number of roles at Citigroup, Inc. Prior to this, Gallagher held senior positions on healthcare-specific teams at Thomas Weisel Partners, Medical Capital Advisors, Healthpoint Capital, and UBS Investment Bank.

Overheard

"It’s a gold rush and everyone is looking for the next nugget."

—Bernstein analyst Arndt Ellinghorst on investors bidding up shares in Tesla, Rivian and Lucid, pushing their market valuations past those of major international automakers, as told to Fortune.

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