Friday, Apr 19, 2019

Yoshihiko Hatanaka

President and CEO

Astellas Pharma Inc.


I have played a leading role at Astellas since the beginning. I was involved in the merger of Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. and Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. to form Astellas Pharma Inc. in 2005. At the time, I was vice president of Corporate Planning at Fujisawa, and I retained the senior level position under the new company (Astellas). I became a corporate executive of Astellas and assumed the roles of president and CEO of Astellas US LLC and Astellas Pharma US, Inc. in 2006. I then served as CFO and chief strategy officer of Astellas Pharma Inc. from 2009 – 2011. I was named president and CEO of Astellas Pharma Inc. in 2011.


I studied economics at Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, Japan, and graduated in 1980.



I joined the sales & marketing organization of Fujisawa in 1980 and subsequently expanded my

roles and responsibilities in Japan, the United States and Europe over the years. I became

Fujisawa’s vice president of Corporate Planning in 2003 and remained a leader in Corporate

Planning when Astellas was formed. I then had the opportunity to become the head of

Astellas’ U.S.-based organizations, Astellas US LLC and Astellas Pharma US, Inc. respectively. I

returned to Japan in 2009 and over the next few years, was CFO and chief strategy officer for

the company. I became president and CEO in 2011.


Areas of Expertise

I have worked my entire career in the pharmaceutical industry. I currently serve as president of the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (JPMA).


What have been the main lessons you have learned in your career and how do you implement them in your management?

As I became a leader in the organization, I came to realize the importance of each word and message I spoke. The first approach that I take to communicate with my colleagues is to have them understand ‘why we do and what we do.’ I want them to know that there is consistency in what we do. Whether I visit affiliate offices, research centers or factories, I always give the same presentations using the same words. We may speak different languages, but I make a conscious effort to speak to all colleagues with the same words and with the same voice. I also choose my words very carefully, so that I can communicate a message that means what I say – so that it has an impact.

By repeating this process, I am able to clearly share the company’s vision and direction with our more than 17,000 employees worldwide. This is the way to engage and get as many people as possible involved. Then colleagues will take ownership and move activities forward.

But it is important that you communicate more than words. A leader must communicate courses of action that we are going to adhere to or key points that we are going to address. It is important that leaders help to ensure the organization understands and supports decisions that are made and actions that will take effect.

In addition, I’d like to impart another important role of leaders: a leader consistently makes decisions based on trade-offs. These trade-offs include getting rid of something in order to start something new, giving something a lower priority so that something else can be given a higher priority, or disavowing what we have successfully achieved so far and starting afresh.

To be successful, organizations need both people who can engage and get people involved, and people who are easy to engage and get involved. Likewise as an employee, you need to be flexible. In some cases, you might be a leader who engages and gets others involved; in other cases, you may be a follower who performs tasks by following your leader. An organization which has individuals with both leadership and followership abilities is more likely to execute on its business in a speedy and effective manner.

I’ve tried to become an approachable boss who can be relied upon and remain as such. I aim able to exercise both leadership and followership. I make an effort to make everyone feel it is easy to rely on me, and I encourage them to want to rely on me. That is the reason I have this title – as my goal should be to make it easier for employees to involve and rely upon me in order to successfully advance our vision.

Lastly, but most importantly, as we work in the pharmaceutical industry, we must always remember why we do what we do: to bring value to patients. I encourage our employees to never lose sight of this fact and to keep the patient in mind, in everything they do.



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