Editor’s note: This story is part of our 2022 PharmaVoice 100 feature.
During their very first encounter, Carol Lynch’s nominator says it was clear that Lynch was a “different” kind of leader. At the time, Lynch was the head of the immunology and dermatology unit at Novartis. And during an interview with her nominator, Lynch suddenly took the conversation in an unexpected direction.
“She stopped me mid-interview, gave me direct feedback [saying], ‘That last statement you said gave me pause.’ [We then] worked together to find a better way to share my thoughts,” a nominator writes. “She took this time with an unknown-to-her candidate, while she was preparing her organization for the launch of Cosentyx, which would ultimately become a nearly $5 billion medicine for Novartis.”
This ability to create an open and positive space for dialogue with colleagues while pushing companies forward has been a hallmark of Lynch’s 25-year career in pharma.
Since taking on the chief business officer role at Sandoz two years ago, Lynch has been particularly instrumental in expanding the company’s pipeline, especially for the U.S. market, both organically and inorganically.
“Under Lynch’s leadership, Sandoz achieved the first approval and launch of a biosimilar in the U.S. and oversaw the launch of the next wave of biosimilars in the EU,” her nominator writes.
Her role at Sandoz is wide-reaching, with responsibilities ranging from driving the company’s growth strategy to lifecycle management to scouting M&A opportunities. She’s also helped the company solidify its place as a global leader in generics and biosimilars, selling products in more than 100 countries and being the No. 1 provider of generic oncology medicines in Europe, her nominator notes.
And Lynch wants to see more of that.
“In the near future, I hope we see a well-functioning U.S. biosimilar marketplace similar to the one we enjoy in Europe,” she says. “Sandoz is committed to doing its part for patients, healthcare professionals and communities to overcome access challenges, price medicines responsibly and affordably, and deliver increased value across the healthcare system.”
In her long career, she’s also held key roles at Novartis, leading a business unit in the U.S. and other positions in drug development in Switzerland. Throughout these professional moves, Lynch hasn’t allowed herself to tread water.
“With such an expansive role, you would expect that [Lynch] would forego innovative thinking for efficiency, but it’s quite the opposite. [Lynch] is not content with status quo,” her nominator wrote. “She challenges the teams and organization to stretch, setting out big, audacious goals, while maintaining an open and supportive dialogue so leaders and associates have the sense that she is ‘in it’ with them.”
And as a leader, Lynch says she’s focused on “‘collective care’…ensuring that her teams emerge at the other side of the pandemic in a good place.”
“The beautiful thing about paying it forward is that there is always a benefit for yourself, from the ‘feel good factor’ to continuous learning,” Lynch says. “Those that are active in mentoring and coaching relationships (one of the ways I pay it forward) will recognize this phenomenon — you always get as much out of mentoring as the mentee.”
“If I was a brand, I would be a type of medication/treatment for sure. My enduring purpose is to pioneer access to medicine, so I couldn’t think of anything more fitting for me.”
Chief business officer, Sandoz
Lynch also uses what she calls the “privilege of position” to amplify all voices, serving as Sandoz’s executive sponsor of women in leadership; executive sponsor of GLOW (gay, lesbians and others at work), an employee networking group; and executive sponsor of diversity and inclusion groups.
“You can’t be what you can’t see, so I am passionate about paving a way for fellow women in STEM and helping to increase the importance and visibility for diversity and inclusion,” she says.
Lynch’s advocacy work also extends outside the organization to the Association for Accessible Medicines, where she served as vice chair, and to her role as chair of the Medicines for Europe Biosimilars Medicines Group, her nominator says.
In particular, Lynch is “passionate about highlighting the threat of antimicrobial resistance to global public health,” her nominator says.
In the future, Lynch hopes this hybrid path of marrying advocacy with a day job is an option up-and-coming professionals will have.
“What we call work now will not look the same in 15 years,” she says. “When the children of today enter the workforce, it may be common that they do not have one career but several concurrent ones. This could mean spending one or two days in a STEM career, another few in a charitable foundation and the last working on supply chain. This type of integration could allow people a totally different sense of fulfillment in life compared to what we experience today.”