Ed Fritzky, Advanced Executive Program ’91, serves as managing partner at Andreas Capital LLC, a privately held investment firm with holdings in early-stage companies and direct equity positions in publicly traded firms. Earlier he was chairman, chief executive officer, and president of the Immunex Corporation, focused on the discovery and commercialization of breakthrough immune system-based human therapeutics.
During Fritzky’s tenure, Immunex became the world’s third-largest biotechnology company. Lead product Enbrel®, the first biotechnology product approved for the treatment of rheumatoid disease and multiple other conditions, drove billions in sales to become one of the most successful biological therapeutics. Ed also led Immunex’s merger with Amgen in 2002—the industry’s largest merger to that point—and served on Amgen’s board of directors, and has served as an advisor to Amgen.
Forbes Magazine recognized Fritzky as a “Best Boss in America” in 2002 for generating the highest annual shareholder return (more than 67 percent per year) over a six-year period. Fortune magazine designated Immunex one of America’s “Best Places to Work” during his tenure.
Prior to joining Immunex in 1994, Fritzky was president of Lederle Laboratories and launched multiple $100 million-plus products during his tenure. Earlier, he was an executive with Searle Pharmaceuticals, including as president and general manager of Searle Canada, Inc. He began his career as a pharmaceutical sales representative in 1973, after serving as an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Among the many other boards and advisory groups on which Fritzky has served are those of Jacobs Engineering, the SonoSite Corporation, the Geron Corporation, United Way, the Medical Affairs Council of the University of Washington, the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Alliance of Angels. Fritzky’s family’s philanthropic efforts have emphasized leadership and healthcare.
What’s one impact you’d like to highlight?
I’m proud to have seen Immunex grow into a successful biotechnology firm creating significant patient and shareholder value.
The business began as a “high-science” company with focus on immune system science. Our Enbrel product for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other conditions represented a real breakthrough from both a science and marketing standpoint. I’m pleased to have been part of that success, along with many others along the way, to growing Immunex into what it became.
While those are the end results, I’m most proud of what led to them: when Fortune recognized Immunex as one of the country’s best places to work. I was thrilled. That’s not easily achieved, as it’s based on a confidential survey, and it showed that I helped create what I see as the optimal professional environment: one marked by respect for peers, where people like coming to work every day, enjoy the people they work with and see work as fun. Creating that will promote so many things about discovering and marketing new healthcare technologies.
“Healthcare is a business”—what’s your take on this statement?
Yes, it is.
Like all businesses, the end goal is to satisfy customers. If a healthcare business doesn’t provide real value for customers, it ultimately won’t be successful. You have to innovate, but with the end goal of offering products of value and addressing patients’ needs.
At the same time, healthcare is not just another business arena because it’s all about people facing some kind of medical challenge. So there is much more exposure to risk, from a business standpoint. If you’re helping people who are suffering, you may be placing their life in jeopardy if you don’t do the right thing for them. That means you have to pay extra extra attention to questions of patient health, ethical issues and matters of public trust.
Healthcare is indeed a business. But it’s one where the stakes are much, much higher.
How has Kellogg been of value for you?
I was at Kellogg many years ago, but remember it vividly and have benefited from it significantly.
My program was for higher-level executives still early in their careers. We were 50-60 people from all over the world, meeting seven days a week for months—it was an intense, boot camp-like experience with outstanding results.
For me it was a great capstone on leadership development. I remember how passionate the professors were about teaching leadership. Kellogg helped me appreciate how critical it is for leaders to develop a point of view on where their business should go, so that everyone in the company has a strong consensus on what the business is ultimately trying to accomplish and how they can contribute. The larger the business, the harder it is to achieve that.
Kellogg also helped enhance my strategy development skills, especially when it came to putting all the elements together: product, marketing, operations, culture and others. At Kellogg I took my first course on ethics, which was critical for appreciating the big picture of ethical behavior, such as when we looked to do business in countries that have their own standards on this dimension.
What’s your advice for rising leaders in healthcare and business more broadly?
This is the “commencement speech” part.
You’re never too young or too old to be a real playmaker in your business. No matter your role, you can drive enormous change by identifying problems and taking initiative to resolve these.
Work on leading change and fixing things. Be out there on the playing field, not on the sidelines. Always look for ways to go beyond your job description or assigned responsibilities.
In healthcare, do all of this while also being cognizant of the high stakes for patients. Because of those you have to be at the top of your game all the time.