NuVasive is raising eyebrows once again with the unexpected announcement that CEO Greg Lucier will be replaced by J. Christopher Barry, effective Nov. 5. Lucier will continue to serve the San Diego-based spine company as chairman of the board.
Mike Matson, a medtech analyst at Needham & Co., said in a report issued Friday that the news comes as a surprise given that Lucier has only held the position since May 2015. Still, the analyst noted that Barry led the surgical innovations business at Medtronic and that his experience with robots, M&A, and commercial expansion make him well-equipped to run NuVasive.
"We spoke to management about the change and our interpretation is that this is a voluntary move on Lucier's part which is supported by the fact that he is maintaining his position as chairman," Matson said.
In a company statement, Lucier highlighted Barry's "stellar reputation for driving employee engagement and operational excellence" and said his leadership will benefit NuVasive's surgeon partners, employees, and shareholders.
"As a board member and shareholder, I have every confidence in Chris's ability to take NuVasive to its next level of growth," Lucier said.
NuVasive also announced Friday that Matt Link, currently executive vice president of strategy, technology, and corporate development, is being promoted to president of the company. Since joining NuVasive in 2006, Link has held various roles with increasing scope within the organization, particularly around building the U.S. commercial organization, and most recently bringing his spine and leadership expertise to the product and systems engineering, surgeon education, and corporate development functions.
NuVasive went through a significant management change last year when former chief operating officer Jason Hannon, a 12-year veteran of the company, left to "pursue other interests." Hannon's departure was announced the same day as that of former CFO Quentin Blackford, who left to pursue an opportunity outside of the spine industry.
Also in conjunction with Hannon's departure, NuVasive reorganized its operating structure in an effort to improve product development and commercialization, integrate its U.S. and international sales, and drive operational efficiencies.