Stephen Saad named as Business Leader of the Year

16/11/12:

STEPHEN SAAD AWARDED BUSINESS LEADER OF THE YEAR TITLE

Johannesburg: Aspen Group Chief Executive, Stephen Saad, was named as the Business Leader of the Year at the annual Sunday Times Top 100 Companies banquet last night.

Durban-based Stephen, who graduated from the University of Natal in 1986 with a B.Com and later qualified as a Chartered Accountant, said: “We had a vision and we have pursued it with both perseverance and passion. I hope that our story inspires future generations of entrepreneurs. There is a wealth of opportunities to be harnessed both in and from South Africa. The rewards transcend material and personal benefits because the true dividends come from making a meaningful difference, uplifting people and helping them achieve goals that they believed were beyond their capability. Collectively we can deliver a better future for all South Africans.”

Saad (48), co-founded Aspen Healthcare together with Gus Attridge, Aspen’s Group Deputy Chief Executive, and two other members in 1997. Since its establishment, Aspen has become the world’s ninth largest generic pharmaceutical company and Africa’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer. Aspen is also the leading pharmaceutical company in South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Australia and a world leading manufacturer of generic anti-retrovirals (ARVs).

With 18 manufacturing facilities at 13 sites on 6 continents, Aspen’s sustained unbroken performance of over 40% compound growth per annum of all key financial indicators has seen its share price from inception rise from 53c to over R156 at the time of the award.

“Aspen’s success can be attributed to a number of factors, most notably innovation and leadership that practices a fine balance between passion and logic. Perseverance is a core quality at Aspen and our teams passionately embrace obstacles as challenges and deliver irrespective of the circumstances. We are also exceedingly proud of our South African manufacturing expertise and proved conventional wisdom wrong by showing that we can produce high quality products locally for global export,” said Saad.

Aspen’s internationalisation has resulted in more than half of the Group’s revenue and profits being generated offshore and the success achieved in Australia following the acquisition of the Sigma pharmaceutical business in 2011 attests to astute leadership given that Aspen Australia’s profit has increased by many multiples in 18 months.

Stephen said “one of Aspen’s greatest achievements of the past year was exporting Nelson Mandela Day internationally through our subsidiaries, with more than 2000 employees from 11 countries contributing to the success of 29 projects on 6 continents which touched the lives of some 3000 beneficiaries.”

Through Aspen’s rapid global expansion strategy, the Group now employs 6000 people and has a presence in South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Dubai, Germany, Ireland, Mauritius, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. Aspen supplies high quality, affordable medicines and products to more than 150 countries around the world.

Stephen has driven Aspen’s Corporate Social Investment initiatives which focus on supporting programmes targeting the delivery of primary healthcare in rural areas, HIV/AIDS and TB programmes and healthcare education. In 2012 he raised more than R10 million for paediatric healthcare in Africa by cycling more than 240km off road in one day, an initiative that was supported by Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Stephen describes his overriding vision as: “Perseverance pays as to rest is to rust”. He is married and has four daughters.