Ernesto Bertarelli ’89
A successful business executive, passionate yachtsman, generous philanthropist, and family man.
He leverages his success in every endeavor to produce positive change and advance technological growth.
Born in Rome, he moved with his family to Switzerland in 1977. He graduated from Babson in 1989, and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School. In 1996, he became CEO and deputy chairman of the global biotechnology firm Serono SA, which he would soon inherit from his father. Under Bertarelli’s leadership, Serono shifted its focus from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology, and revenues increased from $809 million in 1996 to $2.8 billion in 2006. The company gained fame and profits from its discovery of a natural hormone used in treatment against female infertility. In 2006, Serono was sold to Merck KGag of Germany for $13.3 billion, forming a new company Merck-Serono.
Known as a personable, approachable and likable leader, he enjoys his reputation as a global player who assembles international talent to achieve results in business and on the water. In 2000, he founded the yachting syndicate Team Alinghi. In 2003, Alinghi won the Louis Vuitton Cup before beating Team New Zealand in Auckland to win the America’s Cup. Bertarelli served as navigator aboard Alinghi in 2003 and as an afterguard runner and grinder on the boat in 2007.
Bertarelli’s Team Alinghi defended the America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, in 2007, winning again over Team New Zealand. In recognition of his victory, Bertarelli was given two extraordinary national honors: the Knight of the National Order of Merit, Légion d’honneur by President Jacques Chirac of France, and the Cavaliere di Gran Croce by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi of the Italian Republic.
Focusing on philanthropy with a mission, Bertarelli and his family established a foundation in 1999 for promoting understanding of the cause and cure of infertility. The Foundation FABER, in Lausanne, and the Bertarelli Foundation, in Trelex, Switzerland, merged in 2006. Since 2002, Bertarelli has been a director of UBS AG, the global financial services firm. He is a member of the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows.