BD has chosen a new chief executive to pick up the torch as it works to complete its assimilation of C.R. Bard, forming a company that’s projected to become one of the world’s top-five devicemakers with over $19 billion in revenue.
Thomas Polen, BD’s president and chief operating officer, will take over for Chairman and CEO Vincent Forlenza after he retires Jan. 28, 2020. Forlenza will continue to serve on the company’s board of directors as executive chairman.
"As we head into the final year of the BD-Bard integration, the board and I have been focused on preparing for the next phase of the company's growth, and we recognize this is the right time to appoint a successor with the vision, drive and capability to lead BD into the future," Forlenza said in a statement.
An 18-year veteran of the company, Polen helped lead BD’s $24 billion acquisition of C.R. Bard in 2017, which aimed to boost its offerings in oncology and biosurgery—as well as in vascular access, by merging BD’s needles, syringes and delivery devices with Bard’s portfolio of catheters and ports.
As president, he currently oversees the company’s three business segments covering medical devices, diagnostics and biosciences. He also helps lead global R&D, operations and commercialization for the Americas.
Previously, as president of BD Medical, he helped guide the $12 billion takeover of the hospital-focused CareFusion in 2015, makers of infusion pumps, ventilators and surgical instruments, plus digital health solutions and informatics systems.
"Tom is a strategic, customer-centric executive, who brings tremendous energy, a deep understanding of the industry and health care technology, and a strong track record of delivering results,” said Forlenza, who was named CEO in October 2011 and chairman of the board in July 2012.
During a nearly 40-year career with BD, Forlenza ran BD Diagnostics and BD Biosciences, and held various executive positions in the U.S. and Europe, including leading R&D and corporate strategy. He has also served as chairman of AdvaMed, and currently serves as chairman of the medtech trade association’s legal committee. Over his eight years as CEO, BD more than doubled its annual revenue and increased its market cap by over 300%.
"We often say BD is a place where you can fulfill your life's work through your work life, and that has been my experience—every day—for the past four decades,” Forlenza said.
Polen first joined BD in 1999, after startup he was working on was subsumed by the company. He held a range of sales and marketing positions until 2004, when he joined Baxter Healthcare and served as VP of strategic marketing, as well as head of its pharma manufacturing and services arm and general manager of injectables. Polen rejoined BD as president of preanalytical systems in 2009. He was later appointed president of BD in April 2017 and chief operating officer in October 2018.
"I am humbled by the trust Vince and the board have placed in me and honored to have this opportunity to lead such a dynamic company as we move into our next phase of growth and impact,” Polen said. “I am confident we have the right strategy, an exciting innovation pipeline, tremendous breadth of capabilities, and the most talented and dedicated team in health care.”