Miles D White will be stepping down, after 21 years, as CEO of Abbott on 31 March 2020. According to a press release, White’s tenure is the second longest for a non-founder in today’s S&P 100; he will remain executive chairman of the Board. The Board has unanimously appointed Robert B Ford—a 23-year Abbott veteran—to succeed White as CEO. Ford currently serves as president and chief operating officer and has been elected to the Board.
Ford will become the 13th CEO of Abbott in its 131-year history; all CEOs having been appointed from within the company, which the press release calls “a testament to Abbott’s strong management philosophy and succession-planning discipline”. Ford originally joined Abbott in the Company’s Diabetes Care business in 1996. He was appointed president and chief operating officer in October 2018.
According to the press release, Ford has served in many leadership roles within the company, including in the Nutrition and Medical Device businesses. As executive vice president of Medical Devices, he oversaw the integration of St Jude Medical, Abbott’s largest acquisition, and led Abbott’s Diabetes Care business and the launch of FreeStyle Libre.
“It is a tremendous honour to have the opportunity to lead Abbott. I thank Miles for his mentorship, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do what Abbott people do best—anticipate where science, medicine and technology are going and innovate to best serve our customers, shareholders and communities,” Ford comments.
White was named chairman and CEO in 1998. He has strategically reshaped Abbott several times, most recently building Abbott’s leadership in medical devices and diagnostics with the additions of St Jude Medical and Alere, and internal advances like FreeStyle Libre, and the Alinity family of diagnostics systems.
He comments: “I am honoured to have had the privilege to lead such a great institution and to have worked with so many talented individuals over the years. One of the primary goals in my career has been to leave the company well positioned for the people who count on us. Today, the company is the strongest it has been during my tenure, and I am confident that Robert will lead Abbott successfully into the future. He is highly respected, has helped us shape the Company during the last several years and understands the forces driving change in healthcare.”