The CEO of Novartis wants to 'un-boss' the $230 billion pharma giant, and he's starting with letting employees wear jeans to work
Forbes/ Victoria Engblom
- Vas Narasimhan, the new CEO of Swiss pharma giant Novartis, has ambitious plans for his 120,000-person company.
- Narasimhan said in November that he wants to "un-boss" the company's culture, and is letting employees wear jeans to work.
- "I think there's been a lot of acceptance of the culture change, but now the hard work has begun," Narasimhan told Business Insider.
Novartis's new CEO has his work cut out for him.
Since stepping into the job in February, Vas Narasimhan's been working to change what the $230 billion pharmaceutical giant is known for.
Instead of being a diversified healthcare conglomerate, Narasimhan is narrowing his focus to make Novartis a "breakthrough medicines companies," divesting its consumer health joint venture as well as announcing the spinoff of its eye-care business Alcon in June.
Read more: The CEO of $230 billion pharma giant Novartis explains why he's not scared of buying biotechs at an earlier - and riskier - stage
And that includes changing up the company's culture to make big pharma a more appealing place for the millennial generation to work, Already, half of Novartis's 120,000 workers are millennials. There's aesthetic changes involved, such as wearing jeans to work.
"We want to un-boss the company," Narasimhan said at the Forbes Healthcare Summit in New York in November. That means making employees feel accountable rather than having to turn to a boss to make a decision.
But saying the culture's changing and actually making it change are two different things.
"For many people, they love the idea of the culture change, everybody then wants to know why can't it happen right away," Narasimhan told Business Insider. "So then you have to explain to people, this takes time, leadership, it takes a lot of changes in how we work. But I think there's been a lot of acceptance of the culture change, but now the hard work has begun."
Darren Hauck/Getty Images
Darren Hauck/Getty Images
So as much as switching outfits and introducing communications tools like Yammer might help, it's going to take some work to pull this transition off.
"In the end, I need 12,000 leaders of people to change their behaviors," Narasimhan said. "It's not going to be slogans on posters or jeans."
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