Merck’s Frazier scores major kudos from other business execs

May 4, 2021

Merck’s chief executive, Ken Frazier, has been named CEO of the Year by a selection committee of top dogs in a range of other industries.

Organized by Chief Executive magazine, the selection committee recognized Frazier’s success at steering Merck through a period of unprecedented growth — including the development of Keytruda, which is on track to become the best-selling drug in the world — since taking the helm in 2011. The committee also noted Frazier’s commitment to racial and social justice causes. 

"Ken is an extraordinary individual who defines the meaning of leadership, not only in the corporate world but in society as well," Tom Quinlan, chairman, president and CEO of LSC Communications and a longtime member of the selection committee, said in a statement. "This is evident from the results and milestones Merck has achieved during his tenure coupled with the courageous actions Ken has taken over the years to improve our society."

Most recently, Frazier joined 72 Black executives on a public letter voicing opposition to recent voting restrictions and calling on other corporate leaders to do the same.

Frazier joins a long list of influential CEOs who have won the honor in the last 35 years including Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America and Marillyn Hewson, former chief of Lockheed Martin. P. Roy Vagelos, another Merck CEO, also won the same award in 1992.

Frazier announced his retirement from Merck earlier this year and is set to leave his post on June 30. The company’s CFO, Robert Davis, will take over as the company’s new chief. Once Frazier leaves his role, there will only be three other Fortune 500 companies with a Black CEO.