Robert Wessman

BEST CEO in the pharmaceuticals industry

Robert Wessman


It was during his time at the University of Iceland that Robert Wessman started to dream of starting his own company. Once he graduated, he began to gather the experience that would help him achieve this goal. Armed with a business administration degree, Wessman worked for an Icelandic bank before moving on to a struggling shipping company. He helped the business stay afloat, earning him the position of CEO of its German operations.

Wessman hit his stride when, at 29, he returned to Iceland to manage Delta, a generic drug maker that was nearing liquidation. The risky move paid off and Delta, now Actavis, is a multibillion-dollar company today.

Having helped the company recover, Wessman left in 2008. He had lost $250m (€215m) in the financial crash but, despite the uncertain times ahead, acquired a product portfolio of generic drugs that were in development. He discovered Norwich Pharmaceuticals, a small-contract manufacturing platform, and, with the help of its owners, undertook a $50m (€43m) renovation project. This was the start of Alvogen.

Wessman’s goal was to transform the company into a leading international generics player by 2020. Alvogen is on track to achieve this goal: today, it’s one of the 15 most successful generics companies in the world, operating in 35 countries. It has seven biosimilar products in development, with the first set to launch in 2019.

Following Alvogen’s success, in 2013 Wessman founded a sister company, Alvotech. He invested heavily in developing and manufacturing biosimilar monoclonal antibodies, which are used to treat cancer and autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Alvotech quickly became a leader in the industry.

Wessman runs his businesses on the belief that his greatest asset is his employees, and stresses the importance of hiring people who place their team’s success before their own. With Wessman leading a company of talented and hardworking individuals, Alvogen’s success is sure to be long-lasting.