Advancing medical regeneration for the benefit of patients

Combining joy and success for lasting sustainability

Carmen Bornfleth · Switzerland
 · March 19, 2024

In an interview with Zahn-Zeitung Schweiz, Diego Gabathuler, new CEO of Geistlich Pharma AG, reveals exciting details about his plans and visions with Geistlich, while also sharing a glimpse into his personal world.

Mr. Gabathuler, you have been CEO of Geistlich Pharma AG since December - what attracted you to this new role?

Diego Gabathuler: Even before I started at Geistlich, I was fascinated by the strong and attractive brand, the world-renowned top products, and the high-quality training offerings. Since I joined the company, I have also been inspired by the many intelligent, performance-oriented, and warm-hearted people as well as the extremely strong company culture. I consider it a great privilege to work for such an attractive and globally leading company that, with its unique regenerative products, helps millions of people around the world to regain their quality of life. The greatest praise goes to the doctors who use our products with great skill on their patients.

Geistlich is the market leader in the field of regenerative dentistry. To what extent can your previous dental experience at Ivoclar contribute to the new target group of implantologists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons?

Interestingly, there is little overlap with my previous field of activity, and yet I can transfer my broad industry experience into many future topics in the field of biomaterials. Users of biomaterials have different requirements for products and services. We are talking about class 3 sterile medical devices, which is even more demanding in terms of research, development, production, and registration. Biomaterials form their own, very special and fascinating product category, with even greater complexity and completely different technological challenges and opportunities. Of course, it helps me that I have known the market very well for many years and can rely on a strong, global network.

Geistlich recently presented an innovative training concept called myGuide®. What is the idea behind it?

We believe that advanced training will become increasingly important, as the complexity but also the options for users continue to grow. Geistlich is a leader in the field of regeneration and specialized training for surgical treatments. With Geistlich myGuide®, we are now presenting the world's first complete online learning journey in regenerative dentistry. The content for Geistlich myGuide® has been created by internationally renowned experts. This enables clinical professionals and their teams to receive individual and interactive training and to find the best regenerative solutions for a wide range of patient needs. Through this platform, we aim to provide broad and valuable knowledge simply and effectively in order to actively shape and improve the future of regenerative medicine.

Sustainability is currently a top issue. What significance does the topic of sustainability have for Geistlich?

The responsible use of resources is very important to us. Nowadays, sustainability is a crucial factor in brand choice, particularly for the next generation of customers and employees. We have plans for all areas on how we will continually reduce our ecological footprint. Examples include targeted energy-saving measures in production and our own hydroelectric power generation at the production site in Wolhusen. Furthermore, we have also successfully implemented first reductions in packaging and logistics and are currently in the process of introducing clear measures in travel and events practices. We will continue to work on this important topic.

What is your long-term vision for Geistlich?

The long-term vision remains to advance medical regeneration for the benefit of patients, across all body regions. Damaged tissues and joints should no longer be replaced, but rather regenerated using our technologies, which support the body's own natural processes. Together with product users, we aim to free people from pain and limitations, giving them a new quality of life. The driving force behind this is our Pioneer DNA, across all areas, including products, training offerings, and global marketing. In addition to dentistry, we are also leaders in the areas of regenerative sports medicine with our products, e.g. with Geistlich Chondro-Gide® for the knee. Additional products beyond dental applications are currently in development.

What role do international markets play in this? And where does Switzerland stand?

Significant parts of our success are based on our location in Switzerland. Switzerland and its companies are known for their inventiveness, unique quality, and, above all, strong reliability. We will once again invest in our Wolhusen research and production site this year.

We want to improve medical regeneration worldwide. Awareness of oral health is already very high in Switzerland, which is why future growth will most likely come from international markets, especially from emerging countries.

What are the most important qualities that a successful CEO must have?

Basically, I consider authenticity to be essential and therefore don't believe in the prototype of the successful CEO. I would divide the most important skills into 3 areas: First of all, a CEO needs a broad, experience-based professional toolbox. A very important tool is a good understanding of numbers and finances. Secondly, a CEO needs a deep understanding of different methodologies to use the right tools effectively and efficiently. Last but not least, and most importantly in my view, is 'leadership' and the great joy of working with a wide variety of people and their personal development. Of course, this joy must be accompanied by a strong and modern leadership style. For me, good leadership means above all clarity, inspiration as well as challenge and support.

Given the demanding nature of leadership roles, how do you maintain work-life balance?

The basis for a good work-life balance is having a job that you enjoy. This requires the discipline to minimize work during evenings and weekends, or at least limit it to creative work. For personal balance, I prioritize physical activity outside at least every other day. That's why I always bring my running shoes with me on business trips. I also switch my cell phone to airplane mode at 8 p.m. Maintaining family, friendships, and hobbies are very important to me.

First published by Zahn-Zeitung Schweiz

About the author

Carmen Bornfleth | Switzerland

Editor-in-Chief ZZS Zahn-Zeitung Schweiz