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  • Title
    CEO and Chair of Executive Board
  • Affiliation
    Merck KGaA
  • Country
    Darmstadt, Germany
  • 2020 Rank

Belén Garijo was promoted to CEO at German pharma company Merck KGaA in March 2021, making her the first woman to solely run a company listed on Germany’s DAX 30 index. In her first three months as CEO and chair, the $30 billion Darmstadt, Germany–based company recorded €4.8 billion ($5.5 billion) in net sales—a year-on-year jump of 18%. In the last year, Garijo announced Merck would be increasing its investments by 50% between 2021 and 2025 to build out its semiconductor and process solutions businesses and roll out new products from its health care unit in order to reach a new target of €25 billion ($29 billion) in net sales by 2025. On track so far, Merck’s sales increased by 11.9% over the first half of 2021, compared with the same period in 2020, and Merck’s shares have increased by 48% since Garijo took over as CEO. Merck’s health care unit, which Garijo led before becoming CEO, performed well during the pandemic owing to a sharpened focus on difficult-to-treat diseases in oncology and immunology. Alongside strong sales from lab gear used to treat COVID-19, Merck also managed to raise its second-half outlook for 2021.


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