NEW YORK—Robert Pearson, who spent the past five years in senior management positions at GCI Group, is returning to the corporate world as head of worldwide communications for pharmaceutical giant Novartis. He will be based in the company’s Basel, Switzerland, headquarters.
Pearson will report to Steven Kelmar, global head of public affairs and corporate communications, and will be responsible for developing and implementing and internal and external communications programs for Novartis, as well as for the company’s Internet presence and its philanthropic activities. He replaces Dr. Dieter Wissler, who will be retiring from Novartis after more than 33 years of service in various leadership capacities.
Pearson will work closely with Greg Baird, who is head of the company’s global pharmaceutical communications and with Sheldon Jones, who leads the corporate communications function in the U.S. In addition to the pharmaceuticals business, which accounts for 65 percent of the company’s income, Novartis operates consumer health, animal health, medical nutrition, and vision care units.
According to Kelmar, “Bob is a well recognized leader in public relations and particularly in our sector. With Bob’s appointment we are looking to further unify our communications organization around the world.”
Pearson was most recently president of the Americas and chairman of healthcare worldwide for the GCI Group. Previously, he was vice president, global public affairs and media relations from director of product communications for the North American operations of Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, now Aventis, and held several communications and sales positions at Ciba-Geigy, which later merged with Sandoz to form what is now Novartis.
“This is really a unique opportunity,” he says of his decision to return to the corporate side. “I sensed a real commitment on the part of Novartis management to build a best-in-class communications department globally.” He said he was particularly looking forward to the opportunity to live and work in Europe.
The search was handled by Heyman Associates is one of the nation’s largest corporate communications executive search firms. The search team included Bill Heyman Julie Jarrett, senior associate.