Coats never did become a lawyer. His studies were disrupted by a friend in the pharma industry who encouraged him to put down the books, and join him at Janssen.
"At first I protested," says Coats. "I said, 'I don't think so—I'm not a doctor, I don't have a medical degree, or medical background.' But he said, 'Listen, Coats, they're not looking for any of that. They're looking for somebody who can think. They'll train you on the rest.'"
Coats, along with the newly named chairman and chief executive officer Hajime Shimizu, take over the reigns from William Sheldon, former president and COO, and former chairman Soichi Matsuno, to continue another year of stellar growth.
ON LEADERSHIP Pharm Exec: What's been the toughest adjustment to being a CEO?
How does the scrutiny affect your job? Public scrutiny and not having a great image can dictate and determine public policy. As an industry head and as the head of this business, if public policy follows the kind of scrutiny we have had here lately, it can indeed stifle innovation.
I think the biggest challenge in the past year, and the one in which I think we'll come into this new year, is how do we begin to resolve the image issues that don't just impact Eisai's presence in the US marketplace, but impact the entire industry.
How do you handle that issue, day in and day out?
The answer is to continue to innovate, as we have historically, and to be able to communicate with the public in a way in which they accept that innovation as value.