David Ricks is the Chief Executive Officer of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant that has notched a myriad of achievements in its belt during its 140+ years of existence, including being the first to mass produce the polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk. Since taking the reins of the historic drugmaker in 2017, Ricks has steered Eli Lilly through a big restructuring, which has not only cut costs, but also refocused efforts to bring new drugs to the market. In fact, as a result of his leadership as CEO, the market valuation of Ricks' company has gone from approximately $80 billion in 2017 to $310 billion in 2023.
By all measures, Ricks certainly paid his dues before taking the Eli Lilly throne. In 1996, after earning his MBA from Indiana University, he joined Eli Lilly as a mere business development associate. From there, he began climbing the rungs of the corporate ladder. His extensive experience includes success both in domestic and international markets.
Over the years, he held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada, where he served successively as director of pharmaceutical marketing, national sales director, and general manager. Subsequently, Ricks was named president and general manager of Lilly China, operating in one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets.
In 2009, Ricks found his next challenge as president of Lilly USA, the company’s largest affiliate. Then, from 2012 to 2016, he served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines, which encompasses the therapeutic areas of Alzheimer's disease, urology, immunology, musculoskeletal disease, and pain, as well as the company's global marketing function.
Today, in addition to his CEO duties, Ricks also serves on the company board.
As one of the most respected figures in the pharmaceutical industry, Ricks also balances his time at Eli Lilly with numerous professional commitments. Away from the company, he serves on the board of directors for Adobe and The Business Roundtable. He is also the immediate past chair of the board of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). Additionally, he is a member of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations’ CEO Steering Committee, The Business Council, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Council for Inclusive Innovation.