In a big career move on a personal level and a sign of China’s continuing significance to global pharma, Hong Chow has left her role as General Manager for Roche Pharma in China to take on an expanded role at German giant Merck KGaA.


Chow will join Merck’s Healthcare business sector as Head of China & International in October 2021, overseeing China, Japan as well as Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and Middle East, Africa and Russia, the franchise of Cardiovascular Metabolism & Endocrinology (CM&E), and the Global Business Innovation team. While remaining in Shanghai, China, Chow will report to Peter Guenter, Member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO Healthcare and will also serve as a member of the Healthcare Executive Committee.


I am very excited to start the new chapter in October with Merck to make a broader impact to patients and society in China and internationally

Hong Chow


Writing on LinkedIn upon announcement of her new role, Chow stated that “My years with Roche have been just incredible and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with so many amazing people in China and around the world to deliver so many more innovative drugs to Chinese patients in an unimaginable speed. I will miss you all! The images of our lighthouse will always remind me of “Doing now what patients need next”.”


She continued, “At the same time, I am very excited to start the new chapter in October with Merck to make a broader impact to patients and society in China and internationally. I am inspired by Merck’s over 350-year legacy of scientific exploration, entrepreneurship, and long-term commitment towards human progress, and I am grateful to be part of the team to carry forward this legacy. Thank you, Peter Guenter and Belén Garijo [Merck CEO] for you[r] trust!”


A native of Wenzhou city in China’s eastern Zhejiang province, Chow’s family emigrated to Germany when she was 12, where she grew up, studied, and worked, in addition to brief stints in the UK and Singapore. She joined Roche in 2015.


In conversation with PharmaBoardroom in her previous role back in 2019, Chow explained how she had been enticed back to the country by the abundant opportunities to make a difference for patients there, and by a government cognizant of the importance of attracting high calibre international talent. “In 2017, I had the great honour to receive the country’s first “green card” after the government introduced a new policy to attract foreign talents to the free trade zones,” she proclaimed. “It gives me the same privileges as a Chinese citizen … The Chinese government is not only incredibly open to scientific and research talents but also business management expertise and skills. This is also critical to fostering an innovation ecosystem.”


Merck has been doubling down on its China investments in recent years, expanding its R&D facilities in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, where advanced pharmaceutical and life-science research will be conducted, opening a new life sciences center in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, where it currently has drug manufacturing operations, launching a twice-a-year start-up accelerator program, and expanding its basic pharmaceutical technologies operation in Shanghai into a core research hub.


Read our 2019 profile of Hong Chow here and a full interview here