Luis Ceballos – Bristol-Myers Squibb
Flattening homes and businesses with winds of more than 150 miles per hour, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and the rest of the northeastern Caribbean with an unmatched vehemence in September 2017. Nearly 3,000 people died and the island’s power grid was nearly wiped out.
Luis Ceballos remembers the catastrophe too well. As a member of the law department supporting the manufacturing division of Bristol Myers Squibb, he, along with members of the global product and development and supply legal team supported efforts to ensure that patients around the world could still have access to medications.
Some of those medicines are manufactured at two facilities in Puerto Rico, so Ceballos and his colleagues needed to help minimize disruptions while helping get the plants operating again, he recalls.
While helping shift some manufacturing from Puerto Rico, they also worked with outside counsel to restore power to the island and supported the supply chain teams to ensure Bristol-Myers Squibb medicines would continue to be delivered globally.
“It’s important to note that, from an in-house counsel perspective, the type of support I provide isn’t common in many companies,” Ceballos says. “I provide legal support to the supply chain organization, including compliance, contractual and regulatory guidance.”
Keeping links strong
As operations in Puerto Rico returned to normal, Ceballos supported a new major project—the sale of a manufacturing and packaging facility in Anagni, Italy, to Catalent Inc. The transaction required many attorneys, he says, and his support focused on contract manufacturing and supply chain continuity.
For example, along with the business development team, he drafted and led negotiations for the supply agreement ensuring that Bristol-Myers Squibb would still be supplied certain products by the facility after the sale.
The facility manufactures and packages cardiovascular, neuroleptics, anticancer, metabolic and anti-inflammatory medicines as well as non-penicillin- based antibiotics, antivirals, analgesics as injectables and biologics.
It was one of his greatest contributions to the company so far, he adds.
In 2019 and 2020, Ceballos and his colleagues supported Bristol Myers Squibb’s acquisitions of Celgene Corp. in a $74 billion deal and MyoKardia for $13.1 billion. Here they helped integrate the manufacturing and supply chains by negotiating with vendors and for other supply contracts.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in spring 2020, Ceballos was among those ensuring employees had personal protection equipment and that production facilities complied with guidelines and policies. In addition, the legal team helped revise supplier, vendor and shipping agreements due to pandemic related challenges.
Contributing to someone’s life
Born in Armenia, Colombia, a city west of Bogotá and in the center of the country’s “coffee triangle” growing region, Ceballos is the son of an attorney but says his father didn’t practice law full-time.
Ceballos says he did get a good understanding of what attorneys can do to help others. Combined with injustices he saw around him and his love of reading, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps.
He earned his law degree from Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, and then a Master of Law in Corporate and Intellectual Property Law from Duke University School of Law in 2009. Ceballos then attended the Washington University School of Law on a scholarship and got his J.D. in 2012.
Before studying at Duke, Ceballos had worked in-house in Colombia. After earning his J.D., he remained in the U.S., joining Centurion Cargo Airlines in Miami as its corporate legal counsel in October 2012. In 2014, he moved to New York and became corporate legal counsel for Axiom—a company that supplies temporary legal talent to companies.
In 2016, Ceballos joined Bristol-Myers Squibb and while his tenure has included a cataclysmic natural disaster, complex M&A and a pandemic, he says the role he plays is rewarding personally and professionally.
“Being part of a company with an important mission and purpose makes me proud and motivated to come to work every day,” Ceballos says. “When you see you’re contributing somehow to someone’s life and making it better, it means a lot.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2022 Edition here.
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