Life Sciences Insight

Kaufmann on Deck for Olympus CEO

Pending board approval, Stefan Kaufmann will take the helm at Olympus in April, succeeding Yasuo Takeuchi.

Olympus is planning for its next stage of growth, and the Tokyo, Japan-based medtech company has tapped Stefan Kaufmann to steer the ship.

Kaufmann, the company’s current director, executive officer, and chief administrative officer, has been tentatively appointed director, representative executive officer, president, and CEO of Olympus, effective April 1. He’ll replace Yasuo Takeuchi, who will serve as the company’s director, representative executive officer, chairman, and ESG officer. The board of directors is expected to approve these changes at the end of March.

Takeuchi joins a growing list of medtech executives who are part of the Great CEO Reshuffle in 2022.

Olympus said the leadership transition is intended to strengthen the company’s management foundation as it executes its value-creation plan. Kaufmann is expected to lead the company’s resources to elevate the standard of care in targeted diseases and accelerate its growth.

Takeuchi seen as a ‘celebrated architect of change’ at Olympus

Takeuchi’s four-year tenure at the helm saw the most extensive corporate reorganization in the company’s 103-year history. An Olympus veteran with more than four decades of experience with the company, Takeuchi oversaw the transfer of the company’s imaging and scientific solutions businesses and its renewed focus on medtech, with the introduction of a myriad of operational changes and structural reforms bringing improvements in efficiency, innovation, and customer care.

Key achievements include changing the governance structure into a nomination committee structure. This has resulted in an executive management structure consisting of fewer people, which has streamlined the internal decision-making process. Additionally, global governance structure has been strengthened by increasing management agility and enhancing diversity of the company’s board of directors. Takeuchi has expanded the global research and development network and has comprehensively managed the business on a global scale. He also spearheaded the company’s global business development through acquisitions and early-stage investments to stimulate next-generation innovation.

Despite the volatility of the global economic environment in recent years, Olympus has achieved strong financial results and managed to reach committed targets and is on track to achieving over 20% consolidated corporate operating margin.

“With the completion of the groundwork of transformation in the first three years since the corporate strategy was announced in 2019, we can now shift to the next phase to accelerate growth and improve performance,” Takeuchi said.

Expressing his confidence in his successor’s ability to continue the company’s momentum, Takeuchi said Kaufmann has been instrumental in implementing transformation initiatives at Olympus. The two executives have worked closely together for more than 15 years.

Kaufmann known for enduring focus on growth and impact at Olympus

An Olympus veteran with two decades of experience in senior roles, Kaufmann has a background in human resources and a strong track record in driving transformational change for Olympus in the complex Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

Kaufmann most recently served concurrently as Olympus’ chief administrative officer, chief strategy officer, and chief transformation officer, with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the company’s “Transform Olympus” program.

“After years of very successful transformation, we see further opportunities to advance our global operations and processes with a strong focus on elevating the standard of care to benefit our customers and patients,” Kaufmann said. 

He said the company’s key themes over the next three years to five years will be innovation, research, and development and inorganic growth, competitive performance, talent development, and sustainability.

After taking the helm in April, Kaufmann said he plans to drive the continued expansion of Olympus in the medtech field and prioritize business excellence as the company adapts to changing clinical needs and stricter environmental, social, and governance requirements.

Under Kaufmann’s leadership, the company expects to continue to increase innovation cycles through in-house research, acquisitions, investment, and co-creation with industry partners. One of his priorities is the development of the quality and regulatory function toward further maturity, which is critical in the medical industry. He will also focus on evolving the work culture and developing the talent base in Japan and globally.