"Looking back , I was fortunate to be part of a great team of so many talented people."
Róbert Wessman, Chairman and CEO
Róbert Wessman is Chairman & CEO at Alvogen, and founder and Chairman at Alvotech.
Róbert Wessman’s vision was made clear early in his career -- to improve people’s lives by increasing access to affordable medication. To realize his vision, Wessman and his teams have successfully launched and scaled both industry leading generic pharmaceutical and biosimilar companies all over the world.
Róbert Wessman grew up in Mosfellsbær, a small town on the outskirts of Reykjavík. He enjoyed a simple, traditional childhood, supported by a warm and loving family. From an early age he grew up with a love for both medicine and business; it was the latter path he chose to follow when picking his studies and he attended business school. After graduating in 1993, he began his career working for the Icelandic shipping company Samskip, where he quickly worked his way up to the position of CEO in Germany.
In 1999, aged 29, Róbert Wessman decided to combine his passion for medicine with his love for business. He returned to Iceland where he became CEO and president of Delta, a small Icelandic company in the pharmaceutical industry. Under his leadership he grew the company into the world’s third- largest generic pharmaceutical company, now known as Actavis.
During this time, his vision for what he wanted to achieve in business grew stronger; to improve people's lives by providing easier access to affordable medication. This led him to found Aztiq in 2009, together with collaborators and investors. Aztiq focuses on investing in pharmaceutical and health-related industries. With his vision in mind, Aztiq was built on the principle that everyone should have easy access to medicine, regardless of their financial status.
Today, Róbert Wessman and his team continue to successfully launch and scale both industry-leading generic pharmaceutical and biosimilar companies all over the world.
Pharmaceutical and health-related investments
In 2009, together with collaborators and investors, Róbert Wessman founded Aztiq, a company focused on investing in pharmaceutical and health-related industries. In that same year he also founded a new generic pharmaceutical company, Alvogen.
Alvogen has received multiple industry awards and other recognition, including CPhI Company of the Year Awards, and multiple service awards. As their Executive Chairman and the CEO, he elevated Alvogen from being a small, USA based contract manufacturing business, into a top 15 global generics player operating in 35 countries.
In 2013 Róbert Wessman founded the biopharmaceutical company Alvotech. Alvotech is a biopharmaceutical company with fully integrated R&D, API and fill-and-finish capabilities with brand new state-of-the- art facilities. Alvotech has biosimilars in the making which will be launched at patent expiry.
Drive, courage, trust
Róbert Wessman is the leader he is today because of his solution-oriented thinking, his optimistic outlook and his belief in creating your own success. The value of his upbringing continue to guide him, and his survivor mentality is a direct reflection of many challenges he has overcome. Róbert Wessman believes this originates from his struggle as a child with dyslexia and has from early age been focused on thinking in solutions rather than thinking about the problem.
His capacity for optimism and admirable motivation shines through when he talks about his serious biking accident in 2013, which he was lucky to survive- and the three months of bedridden recuperation that followed. It was an experience that made a life-long impression on him and led him to focus again on what was most important for him.
‘The most important thing for me was to be positive and believe that it would all go well in the end, without knowing exactly where it would end’ - Róbert Wessman
Despite his condition after the accident, his dedication won out and he figured out a way to continue working while recovering in bed.
"I was in daily contact with some key employees soon after I came home from Landspítali, as a lot was happening at Alvogen at that time. Most of the emails I sent were very short and sweet, but most had in common that they were misunderstood due to spelling mistakes. It often took more than one person to master the sign language. "
"I did not expect to have an accident. Although it was a difficult time, it was still rewarding and positive."
Operational experience, industry know-how, and the ability to create and develop industry leading teams lie at the heart of Róbert Wessman’s growth strategies. Companies led by Róbert Wessman have yielded record growth with an impressive CAGR of 32% for Alvogen, and 55% for Actavis. In addition to building efficient infrastructure and performance driven organizational cultures, Róbert Wessman has led over 50 strategic acquisitions and partnerships, and established operations in over 60 countries. His companies have achieved both strong organic growth as well as external growth.
Róbert Wessman’s achievements have made him the subject of three Harvard Business School Case Studies:
High-tech Centre in Iceland
When the opportunity arrived to build up Alvotech as part of a high-tech centre in Vatnsmýri, close to the University of Iceland, Róbert Wessman didn’t hesitate.
Alvotech’s new facility in Reykjavik offers space for biosimilar development, drug refills, offices and warehouses. It will also provide the University of Iceland’s Biotechnology department with facilities to help them strengthen the masters programme in Industrial Biotechnology, while offering its students internships within the company.
Today Alvotech is well on its way to becoming a key pillar in Icelandic foreign exchange earnings by 2026/2027.
"It was neither an obvious nor an easy choice to locate the company in Iceland. But in the end, this is how we build up knowledge, not just for Alvotech, but for society as a whole.”
Róbert Wessman, now a father of 5,has always honored his roots and giving back is a personal mission of his.
Building Alvotech in Iceland was important to Róbert Wessman, giving him an opportunity to build up knowledge, not just for Alvotech but for society as a whole. As a part of that mission he has been a proud sponsor of his childhood football team, the Icelandic club KR through his companies for years. Although his football career was cut short by his interest in dance, he remains close to the club's community.
"Promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging young people to become active in sports is in line with Alvotech´s mission to improve people's health and quality of life."
Þorpið (e. the village) a new eco-friendly neighborhood in Reykjavík, based on the concept of finding cost-effective solutions for young people to buy or rent housing is being built and Aztiq is proud to be working on the project with the city of Reykavík.
Róbert Wessman’s personal struggle with dyslexia led to Alvotech sponsoring the documentary, Dyslexia (Lesblinda), made by musician Sylvía Erla Melsted, featuring interviews with experts in the field of dyslexia as well as people's personal stories with their obstacles and their inspirational achievements.
Alvogen and Alvotech have been proud to work in partnership with UNICEF over the years and sponsored numerous programs under the umbrella of our Better Planet charity work. These have included supporting UNICEF’s COVAX project, a COVID-19 global vaccination initiative.
"We know that participation in organized sports and youth activities is an important preventive measure in the fight against substance abuse."
Reinventing tradition, redefining excellence
Together with his wife Ksenia Shakhmanova, Róbert Wessman shares a great passion for wine and winemaking. After a 15 year search, they finally found what they were looking for in Château de Saint-Cernin, built in the 12th century and located in the Bergerac region in the south of France. The Château has been home to wine production for centuries with exceptional vineyard micro-parcels in the Bergerac appellation.
With their love for contributing to local communities, an ambitious business plan and a clear vision of the Château’s potential, the couple set out to revive and reinvent the estate’s ancient wine-making heritage. With the release of their champagne ‘Wessman One’, their red wine ‘N°1 Saint-Cernin Rouge’ and their white wine ‘N°1 Saint-Cernin Blanc’, the fruits of their labour are for everyone to enjoy.
Leadership & track record
Companies led by Róbert Wessman have a collective annual average revenue growth rate of more than 60% (1999-2016). He has led over 50 strategic acquisitions and partnerships and established operations in over 60 countries around the globe. Róbert Wessman’s achievements have made him the subject of three Harvard Business Studies, titled “Robert Wessman and the Actavis Winning Formula” (2008) and “Alvogen” (2015).
Alvotech Founder and Executive Chairman 2012 - currently
Alvotech is a biopharmaceutical player with a fully integrated R&D, API and fill and finish capabilities with a brand new state-of-the art facilities in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Alvogen Chairman and CEO 2009 - currently
As founder and CEO, Róbert Wessman has led Alvogen from being a small US-based contract manufacturing business to becoming a significant generic player in the regions it operates in.
Lotus Pharmaceuticals Chairman of the board 2014 - currently
Róbert Wessman is currently the Chairman of the board at Lotus Pharmaceuticals, headquartered in Taiwan, a high-value generic pharmaceutical company covering CNS, CVS, oncology, women’s health, and anti-obesity drugs in tablets & hard/softgel capsules, for global markets.
Actavis CEO and key strategist 1999 to 2008
Under Róbert Wessman’s leadership, Actavis became a leading force in the generic pharmaceutical industry.