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Mar 30, 2020

Leadership Interview: Meet AmCham’s New Chairman Richard Wright

AmCham Denmark is delighted to welcome as its new Chairman, Richard Wright, General Manager at Roche Denmark. Richard assumes the position from Angela Naef, Senior Vice President, Global Technology & Innovation, Dupont, who will continue to serve on the AmCham Board as Vice Chair. Richard Wright was officially elected at AmCham’s 2020 Annual General Meeting on March 30.

As an Honor graduate of King’s College, London, and holding a master’s degree from Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK, Richard Wright has more than 20 years of experience in the Life Science Industry – much of this in leadership roles. Richard has worked for Roche for the previous 15 years in a number of roles and countries incl. UK, Canada and at the company headquarters in Basel, Switzerland.

Richard Wright has lived in Copenhagen, Denmark since 2018, where he took up the position as General Manager for Roche Denmark.

Get to know Richard Wright by reading this interview on being an expat business leader in Denmark and which leadership principles he lives by…

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What has been your biggest surprise arriving in Denmark?
How well all the Danes speak English! It is rather embarrassing really, but even after two and a half years, my Danish is terrible, mostly because everyone here speaks better English than I do as a native speaker!

What makes you invest your time in AmCham Denmark? And what value do you gain as a business leader?
I have had the privilege to work in Chamber of Commerces’ around the world and as a business leader, I have found AmCham to be one of the most beneficial. The focus on business engagement with key public sector stakeholders, excellent educational events and of course the ability to engage and learn from business leaders from multiple sectors is always of great value

What makes a good leader? And how do you personally continue to grow and develop as a leader?
I am not sure I would be bold enough to say I am a good leader, but I have always lived by some advice I was given a long time ago. Good leaders need to know themselves, know their people and know how to bring the best out of those people.  I have always been fortunate to have wonderful people working in my organisations and have found if you give them a direction, but then empower them, support them and encourage them; they will achieve great things.

What are some of your recent projects and developments that you are most proud of?
In Roche globally we have been transforming the way the organization operates. Denmark has been leading the way in moving from a hierarchical structure to a more agile one, following scrum and sprint methodology. It has been an amazing journey, but a huge change and I am very proud of how my organization here has adapted to and embraced these new ways of working, this culminated with us coming first in Great Place to Work last year as we were in the middle of the transformation.

What keeps your company invested in Denmark? And what can Denmark learn from other countries?
Denmark has a great entrepreneurial spirit and you see this in abundance in Universities and early start-up hubs around the country. This means there are some very talented people and some exciting proof of concept ideas and IP. In a sector like Life Science these are very important. While the focus on Research and Development, Innovation and supportive framework conditions continue, this will be an important market for Roche. That being said, these framework conditions need to continue to develop if Denmark wants to be a world player. We need to ensure continued venture capital and seed funding for start-ups and increased public-private collaboration to continue to foster this innovation and generate greater future exports.

What do you see in the next generation of leaders aspiring to run an international organization? Any advice for them?
This is an interesting question! As a firm believer in reverse mentoring, I actually think we as present leaders should be getting advice from the leaders of the future! On a positive side to the challenging times we find ourselves in now with COVID-19, the lockdown is forcing new ways of working which continuously evolve. An increasingly digitalized society, a more mobile workforce and a new generation of employees that want more autonomy and empowerment mean leadership of the future and the successful businesses of the future will engage their workforce more as their most important asset.