Doing now what the world needs next

A city in a fish eye lens

In this conversation, Roche Vice Chairman and contributor to the Oxford Programme on Responsible Ownership Andre Hoffmann shared his insight on how business can respond to the world’s most urgent needs, including the profound challenges to climate and nature that pre-dated the pandemic. Dean Peter Tufano and Dr. Mary Johnstone-Louis, Programme Director of the Ownership Project at Oxford Saïd, also joined this conversation with Hoffmann on how business can 'do now what the world needs next'.



One of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Roche, is committed to 'doing now what patients need next'. The company has been at the forefront of COVID-19 diagnosis and testing throughout the pandemic and its Vice Chair explained how Covid-19 is redefining the role of business in society.

André Hoffmann is Vice Chair of Roche Pharmaceuticals, which developed the first commercial diagnostic test for the virus, as well as the most reliable antibody tests so far. He is also an expert on corporate social responsibility issues.

He said the pandemic has exacerbated weaknesses in health, economic, social, and environmental systems.

Traditional business models, which focused solely on making profit, are 'no longer relevant,' and had damaged long term resilience, he said. Instead of looking to re-build what was a failing system, firms should now embed ESG criteria in their operations, he added.

Across the world, governments have refinanced economies "on a massive scale," and are now much more heavily involved in the business. Furlough has helped but "the real challenge is coming," said Hoffmann, who urged the business community to research the role of regulators and international organisations such as the IMF.

Now is also the time for strong leadership – people who can persuade others to co-create resilient businesses with a wider purpose, he said.

Hoffmann shared insights with Peter Tufano, Peter Moores Dean, Saïd Business School and Mary Johnstone-Louis, Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Oxford Programme on Responsible Ownership, as part of the Leadership in Extraordinary Times series.