Drug Lord

Fluent in management and cross-cultural P.R., the head of Novartis is the very model of a modern global CEO

Frank Rumpenhorst / AFP / Getty

Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella

On a sunny Friday morning two summers ago, Daniel Vasella got quite a wake-up call. Outside his lakefront home near Zug, Switzerland, gigantic speakers blasted Wagner's Gotterdammerung loud enough to rattle the windows. From across the lake, several boats carrying protesters converged on his house. A helicopter delivered a barrel marked with a skull and crossbones to one of the boats. Baffled, Vasella watched as the barrel was ferried to shore and plunked on his lawn.

The stunt, it turned out, had been organized by Greenpeace to protest an old industrial dump near Basel that was said to be leaking chemical...

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