Alcon Sees a Brighter Future

Alcon’s senior vice president and CIO, Sue-Jean Lin, uses her passion for customer service to mend the gap during a major transition period

Alcon, the world’s largest eye-care company, recently split from the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis. Becoming standalone companies offers an opportunity for both Alcon and Novartis to focus on personal company growth. Alcon submits that it will use this split as a time to innovate on its core mission: helping people see brilliantly.

Dave Endicott, Alcon’s chief executive officer, said in a statement at the time of the split, “We are poised to achieve sustainable growth and create long-term shareholder value as a standalone company. We have a long history of industry firsts and, as a nimble medical device company, we are sharply focused on providing innovative products that meet the needs of our customers, patients, and consumers.”

Like other Alcon executives, Senior Vice President and CIO Sue-Jean Lin has stepped up as a leader during a time of major transition. Lin says she is “passionate about making a difference to customers by focusing on what’s making the business and customer successful.” Luckily, Lin’s experience in the medicine and science industry has allowed her to guide the company toward its goals.

Prior to coming to Alcon in 2018, Lin served as SVP and CIO of Hill-Rom, a global medical technology company, where she was responsible for the global IT function. Before starting at Hill-Rom, Lin used her talents as SVP and CIO at Allergen, another global pharmaceutical giant. In addition to previously serving on the executive advisory board supporting Women in Technology International in Orange County, California, Lin currently serves on the board for Wise & Healthy Aging, a nonprofit focused on enhancing quality of life for older adults. Despite her extensive executive business background, Lin attributes her intelligence and execution wisdom to listening to the business and working closely with her team—two skills that come in handy when helping fellow leaders move toward inevitable growth.

Alcon began trading back on April 9, 2019, on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. Under the terms of the split, Novartis shareholders will receive one share in Alcon for every five shares they hold in Novartis. The eye care industry is a $23 billion market, and Alcon is a dominant asset. For the third quarter of 2019, worldwide sales were $1.8 billion, an increase of 4 percent on a reported basis as compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Since stepping out from under Novartis’s umbrella, Alcon continues to pride itself on being at the forefront of eye care for the last seventy-five years. The company uses this rich history to become a leading innovator in bettering eye care for patients and medical professionals. Alcon designs products to aid in surgical practices as well as vision care. As the largest eye care company globally, Alcon provides a wide range of products to help improve the care of patients, including contacts, cataracts, Lasik, refractive technology, and vitreoretinal surgery. Indeed, as evidenced by its product offering, Alcon provides products that can treat the entire eye at each stage of life.

Most recently, in 2016, Alcon debuted the first water gradient contact lens designed for people with presbyopia, more commonly known as farsightedness. Presbyopia is when people gradually lose the ability to focus on close objects. This was an important innovation for Alcon due to the high concentration of people around the world with presbyopia: a whopping 1.7 billion people are diagnosed with it. In 2016, the company also launched the NGENUITY 3-D Visualization System, which helps aid in retinal surgery.

Alcon not only creates new products but also runs education programs like the Alcon Retina Fellows. Alcon Retina Fellows is an educational program that allows first-year retina fellows to gain hands-on surgical training and mentorship from some of the leading ophthalmologists in the field. Josh Anderson, Alcon’s head of US surgical retina sales and marketing, said in a press release about the Fellows, “We take our role as the global leader in eye care seriously, and as part of this, we are committed to supporting the next generation of ophthalmologists with best-in-class training to prepare them for their first year in their own practice.”

With a presence in more than seventy countries and patients from more than one hundred seventy countries, Alcon is working to enhance vision care for everyone—a mission of inclusion that is evident inside and outside the company. Alcon believes that diversity and inclusion are essential for the success of the company and help the company provide the best products to the diverse communities it serves.

As Alcon continues to grow, they look toward the research and development of other companies. One of its main sources of inspiration is from competitors that seek to achieve similar goals. Alcon’s research and development teams search for other companies conducting research that may enhance one of its existing products or aid in the creation of a new one. This innovation is the foundation for improving people’s lives.

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By the Numbers:

  • Nearly 4.2 million Americans aged forty and older are visually impaired. (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
  • More than 150 million Americans use corrective eyewear to compensate for refractive errors. (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
  • More than 24.4 million Americans older than forty are affected by cataracts
  • By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts (American Academy of Ophthalmology)
  • Approximately 3.6 million cataract procedures are performed in the United States.
  • More than 20 million cataract procedures are performed worldwide yearly. (Review of Ophthalmology)
  • 80 percent of visual impairments are preventable or curable. (Alcon)