Lars Rebien Sørensen, a distinguished Danish businessman, has left an indelible mark on the pharmaceutical industry through his multifaceted career. Born in 1954, Sørensen holds an MSc in Forestry from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, now part of the University of Copenhagen, and a master's degree in International Economics from Copenhagen Business School.
Sørensen's journey into the pharmaceutical realm commenced in 1982, when he joined Novo Nordisk to spearhead the marketing of enzymes. His ascent within the company was swift, culminating in his appointment as the CEO of Novo Nordisk in 2000. During his tenure, Sørensen oversaw the establishment of Novozymes as a separate entity in 2000, with a subsequent role as its CEO. The company's strategic diversification under his leadership included ventures into growth hormones, hormone replacement therapy, and hemophilia drugs.
However, his visionary leadership was most evident in Novo Nordisk's dominance in the diabetes pharmaceutical market. Under his guidance, the company became a global leader, capturing over half of the insulin market, making it the fastest-growing pharmaceutical category after oncology treatments. The company's success was attributed to its focus on organic growth and concentration on areas where it excelled.
In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Sørensen discussed his steadfast commitment to staying true to the company's strengths and capabilities. He emphasized the importance of resisting diversification attempts that could lead to scientific and commercial uncertainty. The World Diabetes Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the mission to improve diabetes care in underserved nations, is proof that Srensen had charitable foresight.
Sørensen's leadership style, rooted in Scandinavian consensus-based principles, sets him apart in the business world. Despite spending six years in the United States earlier in his career, he retained a more aggressive approach compared to most Scandinavian business leaders. This unique blend of leadership qualities contributed to Novo Nordisk's remarkable success during his 16-year tenure as CEO.
Beyond his corporate roles, he serves on the boards of directors for various organizations, including Axcel Management A/S, Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc. (USA), Essity AB (Sweden), Jungbunzlauer Suisse AG (Switzerland), and Novo Holdings A/S.
Sørensen's impact extends beyond the business realm, reflecting his commitment to corporate social responsibility. His dedication to optimizing long-term value through ethical practices and environmental consciousness aligns with the values of the Novo Nordisk Foundation, of which he became the chairman of the board in 2018.
As a highly regarded figure in the pharmaceutical industry, Sørensen's legacy is characterized by his strategic vision, commitment to excellence, and contributions to global healthcare. His journey from marketing enzymes to steering one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies showcases a remarkable blend of professional acumen and personal values.