LILLY CHIEF EXEC WILL BE VAUGHN BRYSON: RICHARD WOOD RETIRES OCT. 31 AFTER 18 YEARS; BRYSON IS LILLY LIFER WITH BROAD BASE IN COMPANY's NEW BUSINESSES
Lilly President-designate Vaughn Bryson will take over the top executive titles at the company on Nov. 1 after thirty years with Lilly and about seven years in charge of Lilly's low-profile but rapidly growing diversification businesses. Bryson will succeed Richard Wood, retiring after an extraordinary 18-year tenure at the top of the Lilly management structure. Bryson will succeed to the top titles at Lilly (president, chief executive officer, chairman of the executive committee). Wood, who turns 65 in October, will leave active employment at the company but will continue to serve as the chairman of the board. The selection of Bryson signifies at least two major decisions by the Lilly board about the company's future course: (1) a generational choice, skipping several senior execs at Lilly who are close in age to Wood and who could have served as short-term chief execs; and (2) a determination about the importance of the diversified operations and the advantages of having a senior executive familiar with the different corporate cultures of Lilly's device, diagnostic and international businesses. At 53, Bryson is young enough to offer the prospect of a decade or more of continued top management stability. The steady presence of a single senior exec was one of the distinguishing characteristics of Wood's 18-year tenure. Bryson is a very youthful 53: he was a first baseman/pitcher at the Los Angeles Dodgers' 1991 fantasy camp. His vigor and outgoing manner may make the changeover appear more dramatic to outside observers. During the last decade, Lilly's senior management has developed the reputation, especially in the financial community, of having a staid and wooden public image. For the last seven years, Bryson has had top management responsibility for Lilly's major diversification effort in the medical device field. That business, comprising a half dozen operating units, surpassed the $ 1 bil. annual sales level in calendar 1990. The medical diagnostic and device fields have been an active deal-making area for Lilly during the 1980s. Five companies were acquired by the medical device business while it reported directly to Bryson. The largest of the acquisitions, Hybritech (for roughly $ 375 mil. in 1986), is now described by Lilly as one of the top five diagnostic firms in the U.S. in terms of profitability. Bryson's experience with those deals may indicate that Lilly will be more inclined in the future to purchase experience or technologies from the outside. Lilly has been more active in taking equity positions in start-up research businesses in the last several years: 10% in Glycomed in January 1990 and 250,000 shares of Agouron for $ 3.5 mil. in April 1988. Lilly's financial operations have reported to Bryson as part of his duties as executive vice president. Bryson also has substantial experience with Lilly's international operations. From 1975 to 1984, Bryson held senior management positions in Lilly's operations in the Far East and Europe. The international and medical device business positions have brought Bryson in contact with the different styles and cycles of Lilly's non-traditional operations. A number of Lilly's medical device businesses are located on the West Coast (Hybritech, Pacific Biotech and Physio Control, for example) and operate in a different atmosphere than Lilly's core Indianapolis operations. In addition to different work environments, the device businesses are notable for different product life-cycles and planning schedules than the drug business. While Bryson has experience with some of the outlying parts of the Lilly corporate network, he is clearly not an outsider at the firm. A career employee of the company, Bryson has come up through the ranks with most of the other current senior execs. He is moving up to the new job from an exec VP position. At that level, he shared the exec VP title with three other longtime Lilly execs: Eugene Step (34 years with Lilly, head of the pharmaceutical business); Mel Perelman (33 years, head of Lilly Research Labs); and Earl Herr (33 years, previously head of Lilly Research Labs).
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