July 21, 2024

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The secrets of success with Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, the leader who’s channeling AI to find the next pharma wonder drug

2 min read

CEO Agenda provides unique insights into how leaders think and lead and what keeps them busy in a world of constant change. We look into the lives, minds and agendas of CEOs at the world’s most iconic companies.


Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, works in a volatile business. The pharma sector has been very profitable for many decades, and its weight in the economy has grown steadily. But for individual companies, to lend a phrase from the late Oscar winner Marie Dressler: “You’re only as good as your last picture” – or, in this case, your latest blockbuster drug.

Hudson moreover joined Sanofi, the leading French pharmaceutical company, just before the biggest global public health crisis in a century hit us. He became CEO in June 2019. Six months later, COVID appeared in China, and a little later, all over the world. In those early days of his tenure, Sanofi was mostly missing in action. Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and Roche all developed their vaccines or diagnostics in a few short months. Sanofi got in on the action but disappeared in the background when its COVID vaccine efforts fumbled.

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Sanofi’s rank on the 2023 Fortune 500 Europe

But the world of pharma is always in flux, and so is Sanofi. In 2022 and 2023, updates on trials and regulator responses to Sanofi’s new asthma treatment caused its shares to soar and fall, as did regulators’ involvement in Sanofi’s planned acquisitions. Today, its share price is up more than 15% compared to 5 years ago. And Hudson is patiently yet frantically building the Sanofi of tomorrow.

At a Fortune dinner in 2023, he and I discussed what AI would mean for business. He was adamant that it would be transformative; I was skeptical. As you’ll read from Hudson’s answers below, the British CEO has been doubling down on his AI implementation, and it’s starting to pay off—Sanofi today is becoming a leader in AI. 

This interview has been edited for brevity.


Down to…

Peter Vanham

2024-06-20 01:00:00

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