Severin Schwan, Roche CEO since 2008, brings a relentless drive for innovation and a passion for personalised healthcare to his role. He joined Roche as a trainee in 1993 and has stayed with the company ever since. He is fascinated with Roche because "we can literally save millions of lives and improve the quality of life of millions of patients and their families".


Our CEO in brief

Nationality Austrian
Year of birth 1967
Education Graduate in Economics, Doctorate in Law
Family status Married, three children
Leisure time Skiing, hiking, film-making, spending time with family and friends, reaching for a good book or catching a movie

Read our CEO's full CV



Questions and answers

We asked Severin Schwan what he thinks about the following topics:

What inspires him:

“This is what really inspires me about Roche: the impact we can make on people’s lives.”

How to foster innovation:

“Scientific success cannot be programmed, but we can create the conditions that will allow it to happen: we need to be open to new ideas, and to have the courage to take risks and challenge commonly-held views once in a while; our researchers need to have the freedom to work on their ideas and above all, they need plenty of time and staying power.”

What makes him proud:

“We are seeing a revolution in cancer treatment. By mobilising the body’s own immune system, we may be able to better treat cancer than ever before. I am proud that Roche is part of this revolution.”

How he copes with stress:

“In fact the ‘normal’ pressures only turn into stress if you have the feeling that the world will stop turning if you’re not around. But of course the world keeps on turning. If you don’t overestimate your own importance, then that helps you to do your job effectively.”

The courage to fail:

“There’s no success without failure! When you’re pursuing ground-breaking innovations, setbacks go with the territory – nine out of ten innovation projects fail. Unless you have the courage to fail, you’ll never be successful.

It is my strong belief that we should celebrate our failures just as we celebrate our successes. I personally congratulate all participants and thank them for their hard work – because innovation is about taking risks and accepting failure.” 

Access to healthcare:

“Our aim at Roche is for every person who needs our medicines to be able to access them, no matter where they live. I am proud that we at Roche are now at the stage where we have a differentiated pricing strategy in different countries, based on purchasing power. Solidarity between the rich and poor countries is essential if we are to improve access to innovative drugs.”