The new Astra Zeneca CEO: “An incredibly exciting phase”

Almost 27 years have passed since Per Alfredsson from Södertälje stepped into Astra Zeneca as a newly hired engineer. After countless different roles, including heading the production of the company’s Covid vaccine, he is now advancing to the absolute top.

“I am quite a long-distance man,” says Per Alfredsson, who since Monday is the new CEO of Sweden at the Swedish-British pharmaceutical giant.

Since starting in 1996, he has held various positions in Sweden, the USA, Great Britain and Puerto Rico. The positions involved heading the local production, as well as planning and strategy for the company’s global supply chains.

He was assigned his perhaps most important task at the height of the pandemic, when it was crucial to quickly start production of the company´s Covid vaccine, Vaxzevria. He was responsible for the supply of the vaccine and for the development and establishment of the vaccine manufacturing in over 25 locations worldwide.

“It was quite a journey, but we are delighted when we reflect on it. We distributed over three billion doses, and according to data, we saved more than six million people. Naturally, it´s an achievement we are proud of, and what’s more, we weren’t in it for profit, which feels good,” he says.

When he is now taking over as CEO of Astra Zeneca in Sweden, it is “with some humility”, in his own words, but he also calls it an “incredible pleasure”.

“We are in an incredibly exciting phase. The company is doing great, I think it’s the sixteenth straight quarter of growth, and we have a robust pipeline.”

He emphasises the research centre in Gothenburg, one of the company’s three research hubs globally, as absolutely crucial to the company, but also, of course, the production facility in his hometown of Södertälje, which accounts for 40% of the company’s global production.

“So, our division in Sweden is absolutely essential to the company, and the goal is to keep it that way.”

What are the major future challenges for the company?

“The short- and medium-term challenges we see are about the supply of goods. We are still suffering from post-pandemic challenges in our global supply chains, but I am very pleased that we are currently delivering on our commitments. It’s a challenging undertaking, but our employees are doing a fantastic job.”

Another challenge is the supply of knowledge, he notes, which is a question of finding staff in Sweden and being able to attract competence from other countries.

“Our researchers in Gothenburg include more than 70 nationalities, so it is crucial for us to have a climate that enables us to keep attracting people globally.”

Per Alfredsson also emphasises the importance of being able to offer attractive and, not least, predictable business conditions in Sweden.

“We must have a reliable long-term investment climate, not just next year, but five years ahead, and it must be comparable or better than investing elsewhere.”

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