US-based contract research organisation (CRO) Kendle International continues its efforts to ride out the recession, announcing a re-alignment of top-tier executive positions that includes the newly created role of chief administrative officer.

In May, when it revealed that operating income for the first quarter of 2009 had dived by 42% on a 5.3% decline in net revenues against the same period of 2008, Kendle uncapped a mixture of cost-cutting and restructuring initiatives to set the company back on course in a turbulent business climate. Among these were plans to adjust Kendle’s organisational and leadership structure, with the aim of delivering operational excellence, efficiency and cost savings for customers.

Those plans have come to fruition with the re-alignment of the CRO’s ‘C-suite’, i.e., those executives with ‘chief’ in their job title. The central plank of this programme is the appointment of Kendle’s chief operating officer (COO), Christopher Bergen, as executive vice-president and chief administrative officer (CAA). Succeeding Bergen as senior vice president and COO is Dr Stephen Cutler, who has spent 14 years at rival CRO Quintiles, most recently as senior vice president, global project management.

Bergen is a co-founder of Kendle, serving as president and COO from the company’s inception in June 1981 through to April 2008, then as COO from April 2008 to June 2009. According to Kendle, the creation of the CAA role within its C-suite and executive leadership team will provide dedicated leadership for strategic technology and infrastructure enhancement initiatives “to drive down overhead and deliver increased innovation, productivity and organisational efficiency”.

As the CRO pointed out, Bergen has led Kendle’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) programme, the largest initiative in the company’s history and now in the final stages of financial implementation. ERP is expected to yield significant benefits for Kendle and its customers, including streamlined global processes, better organisational efficiency and real-time access to clinical trial data.

“As we move forward and position Kendle to compete for higher-level strategic outsourcing opportunities, our infrastructure and ability to deliver on a global scale have never been more important,” commented chairman and chief executive officer Candace Kendle.

The CRO also announced that Simon Higginbotham, head of its Early Stage business, is adding the role of chief marketing officer to his responsibilities, “reflecting Kendle’s increasing focus on strategic customer relationships”.

Other moves to enhance key strategic roles within the company’s C-suite over recent months have included the appointment of Jarrod Pontius as vice president, chief legal officer and secretary; and of Keith Cheesman as senior vice president and chief financial officer. Cheesman was formerly Kendle’s vice-president for accounting and replaced Karl Brenkert III, who stepped down for undeclared reasons at the end of April.