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‘At a family business, it is more important to ensure governance than to maintain full ownership’, explained Jorge Gallardo, president of Almirall, this morning at the second session of the 12th ESADE-Deloitte ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Family Businesses’ lecture series. The lectures have already brought together many of Spain’s family businesses and are an opportunity to discuss and analyse the challenges these companies face. In Gallardo’s view, the key to the success of this pharmaceutical company, which has been publicly listed since 2007, is ‘the professionalisation of the family’. ‘Our board has a high proportion of independent directors, many of them international. Only those family members who add value are allowed to sit on it’, he said. ‘Almirall has already incorporated third-generation family members, six professionals who hold different positions in different areas in accordance with their training: in pharma, hospitals, the family council, investments or philanthropy. Each family business has to find the right combination in this regard. The Gallardo family has done so very successfully.’
Innovation and internationalisation
In his talk, the Almirall president offered an overview of the more than 75 years of history of the company he now leads, a history marked by purchases and acquisitions of medicines and companies, paying special attention to two key aspects of its evolution over this time: real innovation and internationalisation. ‘Our business model is based on internal research and development and access to new products from other international companies’, he explained. ‘This allows us to operate in more than 70 countries through 13 affiliates and a strategic partnership network.’ ‘To ensure the continuity of a company such as ours, you have to keep one foot in the national market and put the other foot out’, he noted.
Looking towards the future, Gallardo confirmed his commitment to the company’s digitisation and specialisation in the fight against dermatological diseases, a formula ‘that will allow it to continue growing internationally and investing in innovation’. For the Almirall president, this goal would not be possible without the right workers and specialists. ‘We are a family business, which makes us more resilient and more focused on the long term. Our system is based on proximity and is key to attracting talent.’
The second session of the 12th ESADE-Deloitte ‘Challenges and Opportunities of Family Businesses’ lecture series also featured remarks by Pedro Navarro, a member of the ESADE Foundation Board of Trustees; Raimon Ripoll, partner and director of the Catalonia, Aragon, Balearic Islands and Andorra Division at Deloitte, who called Almirall ‘a model of evolution and adaptation’; and Alberto Gimeno, an associate professor in the Department of Strategy and General Management at ESADE, for whom the company led by Gallardo ‘reflects a model that combines the best of the world of family business with the best of publicly listed corporations with dispersed shareholders’.
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