30 IR stars in 30 days: Thomas Kudsk Larsen of AstraZeneca
IR Magazine has a long history of honoring those men, women and companies around the world that excel at investor relations. In celebration of 30 years of IR Magazine, we selected 30 IR stars that have shone particularly brightly over the past three decades and will be posting one profile each day for 30 days, giving you the gift of an IR advent calendar.
Former IR Magazine cover star and regular IR Magazine Award winner – including a trophy for the innovative sell-side science event held in the Eagle Pub in Cambridge where the discovery of human DNA was first announced in 1953 – Thomas Kudsk Larsen of AstraZeneca says one of his IR highlights is maintaining relationships across his career.
‘It has been a true joy and privilege to be able to keep those relationships over such a long period of time and through three very different companies (Novozymes, Roche and AstraZeneca),’ he says. ‘There are investors and analysts I have known since I joined Novozymes [in 2001] that I am still in contact with, and that have either invested in or covered all three companies.’
He also notes a feeling of shared growth with some of the analysts who have covered his firms over the past 17 years. ‘I have seen people grow from junior analyst to senior portfolio manager as I have grown myself in knowledge and insight and business/IR acumen’ while remaining ‘humble’ to the key elements of IR: keeping investors up to date, and ‘under-promising, over-delivering’.
Talking to IR Magazine’s Andrew Holt for the 2017 cover story Keeping IR in good health, Larsen explained that while the firm had made some major changes to its IR team following a move to Cambridge, and won awards for its innovation, for him, IR is built on the basics.
‘We think of investor relations as like building a house,’ he told Holt. ‘You start with the ground floor, then add more floors above. The ground floor is about solid disclosure processes, a good investor-relationship system to keep track of shareholders, prospective investors and activities, well-written press releases and quarterly results announcements and presentations – all what people would call the basic stuff.’ It’s only on top of this that Larsen begins to build outreach and access for smaller investors.
Through three pharma firms and 17 years in IR, Larsen has come a long way, building relationships as he goes. ‘But let’s not forget all the airport security lines I had to pass through to get here,’ he quips.
Stay tuned for more IR stars this week and pick up a copy of the winter issue of IR Magazine to see the full list.
A version of this article was published in the winter 2018 issue of IR Magazine – the 30th anniversary issue of the industry’s premier publication.