Stephanie Ricci contributed to this story.
Born in a small town near Milan, Italy, Andrea Marazzi’s journey took a surprising turn from design and architecture towards the world of business and economics, driven by practicality and an ambition to make a real impact.
While working as a financial analyst at NCR and then Novartis, his aspirations were to become CFO and use his financial expertise as an avenue to help people.
It was then a wise mentor who encouraged him to explore roles beyond finance that set the stage for his role and impact into the pharmaceutical industry.
“When you think about leadership, this is an industry where you can really go after big things, and this is where I got fascinated,” says Marazzi.
His drive for meaningful change eventually led him to North America, first as Country President of Novartis Canada and most recently as the head of Commercial Strategy, Operations and Launch at Novartis US.
Novartis is a pharmaceutical powerhouse with a global presence spanning nearly 140 countries, that uses innovative science and technology to address some of society’s most challenging healthcare issues.
“We discover breakthrough therapies across four different therapeutic areas,” says Marazzi. “Our job here is to not only discover, develop, but also make [therapies] available to patients.”
But for Marazzi, we are just at the dawn of what could potentially be a new era in medicine.
Bridging the gap between innovation and healthcare
According to Marazzi, while the organization has garnered attention for innovative products that can reduce mortality and morbidity, the persistent challenge lies in their implementation within the healthcare system.
The company is committed to understanding how healthcare systems operate and developing strategies for partnership and collaboration, with the goal of seamlessly integrating and rapidly commercializing medical innovations – ultimately benefiting patients in need.
When asked to provide insight into the current state of the pharmaceutical landscape, Marazzi believes there are two opposing forces at play.
In his view, innovation and scientific development are positive forces of the future, with ongoing progress in fields such as regenerative medicines providing the potential to improve health outcomes and human lifespan. On the other hand, he acknowledges the role that lifestyle factors will continue to play in overall health and well-being.
For example, he shares memories of neighbors in his hometown that lived well into their 80s without the benefits of modern medicine, and wonders whether natural longevity was more common due to healthier diets and more active lifestyles.
Today, with increasing options and medicinal possibilities, achieving a balanced and healthy lifestyle is—ironically—a more complex endeavor.
“That’s something that we have to really take into consideration, but I think innovation is going to push the boundaries,” says Marazzi.
Innovation begins with curiosity
In the two decades he has spent with Novartis, Marazzi has had the opportunity to observe the company’s transformation from a diversified business into a focused, innovative medicine company. He emphasizes the need for prioritization and strategic choices to excel in the company’s mission, from research to execution.
Novartis’ corporate culture has also undergone significant transformation over the years. Marazzi proudly describes it as an environment that fosters inspiration, resilience, and curiosity.
“It’s about how we create a space for people to thrive,” he says.
When questioned about his leadership approach, Marazzi positions himself somewhere between the Mintzberg and Porter models, with the belief that a blend of both is key for success.
“Great ideas cannot always originate from the top,” says Marazzi, who believes innovating can spring from any level.
It is, however, up to leaders and managers to provide clear direction and clarity, thereby fostering a culture that empowers individuals to innovate, experiment, and perform at their highest potential.
“This is the essence of a diverse, inclusive, accountable, and empowered team,” he concludes.