- Parexel International Corp. has appointed industry veteran Jamie Macdonald to the company's top spot, replacing CEO Josef von Rickenbach, who will continue to serve as the chairman of the board.
- Macdonald was most recently vice chairman at contract research organization (CRO) INC Research LLC. He also served as INC's CEO from 2013 almost through 2016. Last May, the company announced plans to merge with fellow CRO InVentiv Health.
- This is the first new leader Parexel has had since its founding in the early 1980s. Though Rickenback was instrumental in building the business, it has faced several pressures in the past couple years. In 2017, private equity firm Pamplona Capital Management dropped $5 billion in cash to take hold of Parexel.
The first task for Macdonald, who has decades of experience in the CRO space, is likely to chart a better course for Parexel now that the company is under Pamplona's umbrella. At the time of its acquisition, Parexel had $428 million in net debt and was in the midst of laying off hundreds of employees as part of an ongoing restructuring.
"Today, a new era begins. The biopharmaceutical services industry is more dynamic and exciting than ever, and Jamie is the right leader to take Parexel into the future. I am confident that our next generation will be an even greater one," von Rickenbach said in a March 5 statement.
Macdonald's track record helps bolster that confidence. During his time as CEO of INC, the company's revenue increased between 15% and 20% each year. And from the end of 2014 until when Macdonald left the top spot, INC's stock more than doubled.
To be fair, his tenure also coincided with a larger trend — an increased reliance on contract services organizations by big pharma. The trend has become so widespread that many companies in the contract research and manufacturing space have consolidated to ensure they have adequate resources and capital to meet the demand. INC and InVentiv's merger is one example, as was that of Quintiles and IMS Health.