Sally Susman, EVP, corporate affairs, Pfizer: Power List 2016

2016 rank: 47

In May I picked up a copy of The New York Times and my eyes were immediately drawn to the headline: "Pfizer prohibits use of its drugs in executions." This was the hand of a PR genius at work — Sally Susman at her best.

It’s hard to be objective because Sally and I have been friends for nearly 40 years. The Susmans and Edelmans were from the Midwest and went to the same places for Christmas. I followed Sally’s career closely at American Express and the Clinton administration.

She’s had a challenging year at Pfizer, including the derailed merger with Allergan, which drew criticism from the likes of President Obama, claiming the pharma giant was looking to relocate to Ireland to save tax.

She worked closely with her CEO, Ian Read, to position the company as an innovator and responsible corporation, overseeing its dynamic evolution. Sally is a passionate citizen of the world. She joined Pfizer to have a global impact on health and her team leads the company’s CSR efforts, working with The Carter Center, Care, and UNICEF, among others.

She is the epitome of the modern CCO, attuned to political and social issues, a strong advocate for policy change first, only then communications.

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