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Éric Marée wins Animal Pharm's Lifetime Achievement Award

Virbac's chairman Éric Marée is the recipient of Animal Pharm's Lifetime Achievement award in the month he retires from his role at the French firm.

Mr Marée has spent over 18 years at Virbac after becoming the company's chairman in 1999. During Mr Marée's tenure, Virbac has risen from 16th in Animal Pharm's industry rankings in 2000 with sales of around $300 million, to ninth position in 2016 with revenues more than tripling.

His leadership at Virbac has seen the company grow into an international presence with a highly diversified product portfolio. Now, the firm records more revenues in international markets than it does in Europe.

Additionally, Virbac's workforce has nearly doubled in size while Mr Marée has been at the helm. Today, the business has just under 5,000 employees (with more than 80% outside of France).

Eric Marée, Virbac

After graduating from the HEC School of Management in Paris, he gained an MBA at Cornell University's Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management in 1978.

Mr Marée worked as a consultant for McKinsey (1981-1989) before embarking on a career in management across French healthcare. Previously, he held senior positions with Rhône-Poulenc Rorer (1990-1994) and Roche (1994-1999).

Below, colleagues and other leaders in the animal health industry pay tribute to Mr Marée.

'Intelligence and talent'

Marie-Hélène Dick-Madelpuech, chairwoman of Virbac's supervisory board, said: "After 18 years under the chairmanship of Éric Marée, Virbac has changed significantly, but is still flexible, passionate, innovative and true to its culture and human values.

"With intelligence and talent, he promoted our historic attributes, optimized operations and developed excellence, rigor and efficiency. With his common sense and methodical approach, he orchestrated decision-making processes, strengthened and structured teams and centralized certain support functions in pursuit of greater efficiency.

"Éric put the human element and team efficiency at the heart of the organization. His delegation and performance-based management style gave teams confidence while developing their skills. Exemplary and respected, he forged a powerful emotional tie with the employees over the long term."

'Transformed Virbac'

Sébastien Huron, the new chairman at Virbac, paid tribute to his predecessor.

He said: "We have all learned at Éric Marée's side but beyond the human stories, Éric has profoundly transformed Virbac over the past 18 years.

"Virbac today has 2.5 times as many staff members as it did when Éric joined the Group in 1999. Company sales more than tripled over this same period and no fewer than 15 new entities allowed for an increase in the number of Virbac standards worldwide.

"The group became a leader in several major markets. Éric built a company that is much more solid than it had been in the past, much more resilient."

'Poise and presence'

Habib Ramdani, Virbac's chief financial officer and member of the executive board added: "What strikes you at the outset when first meeting Éric Marée is his vision and analytical acumen. But what really sets him apart from the other leaders is his self-control and human qualities.

"Through his poise and reassuring presence, he inspires a sense of strength and trust as well as the belief that all problems are solvable. Through the time he devotes to you, he gives you the feeling, each time you meet him, that you are the most important person in the world. He possesses this rare ability to push you to do your very best and give that extra effort without him ever having to ask anything of you."

'Analytical mind and grassroots involvement'

Christian Karst, executive vice-president Corporate Development, member of the executive board: "Many features and personality traits of Éric Marée can illustrate his action throughout his mandate.

"First of all, availability, listening and attention to others, made it possible to maintain and strengthen people's extraordinary commitment within Virbac – our primary strength. Trust, which unleashes energy and initiatives. Analytical mind and grassroots involvement, to enrich collective intelligence and give rise to the right decisions, as well as sensitivity and diplomacy, to encourage passions while channelling debates.

"Communication, to better explain decisions and to implement them more effectively. A protective stance in the event of real and serious risk, but above all paramount interest in originality, innovation and calculated risk-taking, the natural company genes. And above all, of course, the desire to build for the long term."

Praise from HealthforAnimals, Zoetis and Elanco

Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director of HealthforAnimals, stated: "During the 17 years that he built Virbac into a successful and respected company, Éric also contributed to HealthforAnimals – as a board member, treasurer and president. His gracious style and collegial attitude have set a precedent for the wider industry."

Juan Ramón Alaix, chief executive of Zoetis, added: "Éric Marée has been a tireless advocate for the animal health industry and has made an enduring contribution to elevating the appreciation of the value our industry brings to society.

"Throughout two decades of leadership at Virbac and in our industry associations, he has helped advance animal health and public health and also attract new generations of talented professionals to the sector.

"His accomplishments and passion for animal health make him more than worthy of the Lifetime Achievement Award, and we at Zoetis congratulate him on this honor."

Jeff Simmons – president of Elanco – said: "Éric has been one of the constants at our industry leadership table, always looking at the long-term value proposition of animal health in the areas of geographic expansion, enabling innovation and building partnerships with world-class organizations, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"His vision and long-term view is a big part of his legacy and even bigger part of our bright industry future. I have the utmost respect for Éric’s integrity and am appreciative of his impact on our industry."

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