Tom van Laar received his B.S. In Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Northwestern University (Kellogg). He began a long career in manufacturing with Sybron Corporation and GE Plastics before transitioning to pharmaceuticals with Searle for 19 years (Searle was acquired by Monsanto and later became Pharmacia).

Tom joined Novartis in 2002 as head of US manufacturing for the Pharma division, and was promoted in late 2004 to Head of Global Technical Operations based in Basel, Switzerland. Technical Operations oversaw 24 manufacturing sites around the world, supporting a $32 B Pharma business.

In addition to his overall operational responsibilities, Tom led the first ever Lean manufacturing and Process Oriented organization transformation in Novartis. In 2007, Tom also initiated the first ever transformation to truly continuous manufacturing for the Pharma industry in partnership with MIT.

Tom retired from Novartis in early 2013 to return with his wife to the US. After a 6-month break, he resumed consulting in the areas of pharmaceutical manufacturing and organizational transformation.