Close this search box.
Close this search box.

CEO of the Week: Eli Lilly’s David A. Ricks

Under CEO David A. Ricks, Eli Lilly and Co. conducts the world's first COVID-19 antibody study using human patients

Under chairman and CEO David A. Ricks, Eli Lilly and Co. is conducting the world’s first human study of a potential antibody treatment designed to fight Covid-19.

The investigational medicine, referred to as LY-CoV555, is the first to emerge from the collaboration between Lilly and AbCellera to create antibody therapies for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, the Indianpolis pharmaceutical company said last week.

The first patients in the study were dosed at major medical centers in the U.S., including NYU Grossman School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles. At the same time as Lilly is investigating the safety and efficacy of LY-CoV555, the company is also starting large-scale manufacturing of the potential therapy.

Lilly is researching multiple approaches to treating Covid-19, the company said. Existing Lilly medicines are now being studied to understand their potential in treating complications of Covid-19, and the company is collaborating with two biotech companies to discover novel antibody treatments for Covid-19.

“Lilly is rising to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, whether it be by supporting our employees, our communities, patients with chronic diseases who are the most vulnerable to the virus, or directly attacking the disease with new and existing therapies,” Ricks said in the company’s first quarter earnings release.

“Lilly’s purpose — to make life better — has never been more important,” he added. “We’re focused on reliably supplying medicines, keeping our employees safe and pushing scientific efforts at top speed to defeat Covid-19. We’re also committed to improving the affordability of and access to our medicines, particularly insulin, during these challenging times.”

Ricks assumed the role of president and CEO and joined the board in January 2017, before becoming chairman that June. A Lilly veteran for more than 20 years, he served as president of Lilly Bio-Medicines from 2012 to 2016. Previously, Ricks was president of Lilly USA, the company’s largest affiliate, from 2009 to 2012. He served as president and general manager of Lilly China, operating in one of the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets, from 2008 to 2009. And he was general manager of Lilly Canada from 2005 to 2008, after roles as director of pharmaceutical marketing and national sales director in that country.

Ricks joined Lilly in 1996 as a business development associate and held several management roles in U.S. marketing and sales before moving to Lilly Canada.


Headquarters: Indianapolis

Age: 51

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Purdue University; MBA, Indiana University

First joined company: 1996

Prior to joining Eli Lilly: Account representative, IBM

Named CEO: 2017


He’s No. 124 on Chief Executive and RHR International’s CEO1000 Tracker, a ranking of the top 1,000 public/private companies.


  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events


    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)


    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.