Session highlights: Opening keynote – The legacy of purpose | André Hoffmann, Non-executive Vice-Chairman, Roche Holding Ltd.
Taking the long road to continued success
To bring a drug from lab to market requires long-term thinking and commitment. That kind of thinking is part of Roche’s purpose, according to Non-executive Vice-Chairman André Hoffmann.
That purpose — doing now what patients need next — requires the family-controlled company to take a long-term view. “You need to be able to think long term,” Hoffmann said pointedly.
Companies also need to communicate their commitment to that purpose. “You need to make sure that people understand your purpose is sincere,” said Hoffmann, who was interviewed by EY Global Chairman & CEO Mark A. Weinberger. “It’s not consultant-speak. … It’s a felt emotion.”
And it’s part of a deep belief on Hoffmann’s part that businesses large and small need to be net contributors to society. In an era where the credibility of business has significantly eroded, corporations’ mentality needs to change: the focus needs to be not only on profit, but also on helping communities. In other words, businesses should focus on their legacy.
Roche’s legacy would be stability, long-term thinking and transmitting what happens in the lab to the market, Hoffman said. Although Roche is traded on the public markets, the family holds a majority of the voting shares.
“If you want to buy those shares, you have to understand we are there and will be there in the long term,” said Hoffmann, who is the great-grandson of company founder Fritz Hoffmann-La Roche.
At the same time, the family has stepped back from management (thus the “non-executive” in his title). So what does he do? “My main job is to manage the family,” he said.
“You need to make sure that people understand your purpose is sincere. It’s not consultant-speak. … It’s a felt emotion.”
- André Hoffmann
Roche Holding Ltd.
André Hoffmann studied Economics at St. Gallen University and holds an MBA from INSEAD. In 1983, he stepped up from his role as board member at Fondation Tour du Valat to the position of acting Head of Administration at the Station Biologique de la Tour du Valat in the Camargue, France. In 1985, he joined James Capel in London as an associate on the Continental Desk before working on European M&A. He then worked for Nestlé UK for three years before establishing a family office dealing with asset management and board directorships.
André is non-executive Vice Chairman of Roche Holding Ltd. and of Givaudan SA. He chairs the board of Massellaz SA. He is also a board member of the following companies: Amazentis SA, Genentech Inc., Glyndebourne Productions Ltd. and Inovalon, Inc.
In addition, André serves on the board of the following charities: Foundation Dubois Ferriere-Dinu Lipatti, Fondation ProValat, INSEAD and Paul Sacher Stiftung. André’s main philanthropic interest is in the field of nature conservation. To support his efforts in this field, he chairs the Fondation MAVA and the Fondation Tour du Valat. He is also Vice-President of WWF International.
Mark A. Weinberger
Global Chairman & CEO
Mark Weinberger is the Global Chairman & CEO of EY. Previously, he was the Global Vice Chair – Tax. With 230,000 people in more than 150 countries, EY is one of the largest professional services organizations in the world. Mark was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury (Tax Policy) in the George W. Bush Administration and was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the US Social Security Administration Advisory Board.
He co-chairs the Russia Foreign Investment Advisory Council (FIAC) with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and is a member of the International Business Council for the World Economic Forum. Mark is an Executive Committee member of the US Business Roundtable and chairs its Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee. He also sits on the boards of Catalyst, The Tax Council, and the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. Mark holds a BA from Emory University, an MBA and JD from Case Western Reserve University and a LLM from Georgetown University.