Illinois-based Abbott will have a new chief executive officer in 2020. Miles D. White will step down from his role as CEO following 21 years with the company. He will be succeeded by another long-time Abbott veteran, Robert B. Ford, who has been with the company for 23 years.
White will turn over the reins of the company on March 31, 2020. He has served as chairman and CEO since 1998. He will remain executive chairman of the board, the company said in its announcement. Ford is Abbott’s current chief operating officer, a role he was tapped for last year. As the next CEO, he has been elected to a position on the company’s board of directors. Ford will be the 13th CEO Abbott has had in its 131-year history. All of the company’s CEOs have been appointed from within the ranks.
Looking back at his tenure at the helm of the company, White said one of his primary goals has been to leave Abbott “well-positioned” for the people who count on the company.
Over his tenure with Abbott, Ford has held numerous leadership roles. In addition to COO, he serves as president of the company. He has overseen Abbott’s nutrition and medical device business. During his time overseeing the medical device business, Ford oversaw the integration of St. Jude Medical, Abbott’s largest acquisition. Ford also led Abbott’s diabetes care business unit and oversaw the launch of FreeStyle Libre, a sensor-based glucose monitoring system. Additionally, White oversaw the spinout of two successful companies, Hospira, which was acquired by Pfizer in 2015 and AbbVie, which markets the world’s most popular drug, Humira, which was gained through the 2001 acquisition of BASF’s Knoll pharmaceutical business.
“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead Abbott,” Ford said in a statement. “I thank Miles for his mentorship, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to do what Abbott people do best – anticipate where science, medicine and technology are going and innovate to best serve our customers, shareholders and communities.”