Celgene senior executives take care of themselves

  • Top Celgene executives will collect 2.5X their salary and bonus in cash if they leave after the deal with BMS closes.
  • A new severance agreement was formalized days ahead of the buyout press releases.
  • CEO Mark Alles will get three times his salary when he leaves.

Whenever a CEO talks about “synergies” in discussing a merger you know that there are going to be layoffs, a whole lot of layoffs. If the deal between BMS and Celgene goes through a lot of people could find that they suddenly have a meeting with HR to discuss their severance package.

The top executives, however, at Celgene don’t have to worry about that. As the deal was in its final phase, they decided to take care of themselves by signing a very lucrative severance package while the rank and file are largely on their own. This is a key piece of the puzzle that is wrong with working for a pharma company.

At a time when pharma is having a problem attracting MillennialsMillennials, they are using their companies as personal banks. US pharma companies like AbbVie rewarded shareholders by unveiling $34.4 billion in buybacks last week, according to TrimTabs Investment Research. And the trend continued with Johnson & Johnson, who is mired in a controversy over its iconic baby powder product, announced a $5 billion buyback. In other words “screw employees, we’re all about the stock because of incentives”.

By 2020, Millennials will make up more than 75 percent of the workforce. Unlike previous generations, this group of workers values the intangible: they want to feel connected to their work, make an impact, grow professionally and have flexible work-life balance. This is everything pharma avoids.

Millennials want to connect to the world through their work. Because of this, it’s imperative that companies define their purpose — “why” they exist — so employees have something they can connect with and rally behind. The idea that pharma is here to help patients is consistently weakened by what pharma companies do; not by what they say.

I work with a lot of Millennials and to say that they are disillusioned would be a HUGE understatement. Most are looking to get out despite being paid really well because they despise the culture. One of the new digital officers hired from outside the industry told me that he is actively looking to “get out” because the culture is based on old management styles that do everything they can to limit the decision makers’ ability to change and make a difference.

Pharma CEO’s had better wake-up and start embracing what Millennials want or else they are going to lose their organization’s ability to compete.