Only female head of major drugs firm

Walmsley to replace Witty as GSK CEO

emma-walmsleyDrugs giant GlaxoSmithkline has appointed the head of its consumer healthcare division Emma Walmsley as group chief executive.

She will become the only female CEO of a major pharmaceuticals company when she succeeds the retiring Andrew Witty on 31March. Ms Walmsley will join the board from 1 January.

Consumer Healthcare is one of the world’s largest consumer health companies with a $6 billion turnover and was set up in 2015 following completion of GSK’s joint venture with Novartis. Its brands include Panadol, Voltaren, Sensodyne and Horlicks.

She joined GSK in 2010 from L’Oreal where, over the course of her 17-year career, she held a variety of marketing and general management roles in the UK, Europe and the US. From 2007 she was based in Shanghai as general manager, consumer products for L’Oreal China.

Ms Walmsley became a non-executive director of drinks group Diageo in January this year.

Sir Philip Hampton, GSK chairman, said her appointment followed a “thorough and rigorous global selection process”.

He added: “Emma is an outstanding leader with highly valuable experience of building and running major global businesses and a strong track record of delivering growth and driving performance in healthcare.

“Under Andrew’s leadership, GSK has successfully developed into a company with market-leading positions in pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer healthcare.  These provide excellent platforms for sustainable, long-term growth, and we are confident Emma will successfully build on these strengths.”

Ms Walmsley said:  “I am delighted and honoured to be appointed GSK’s next CEO. GSK is a company that leads both in science and in the way it does business.

“We have momentum in the group and as the demand for medical innovation and trusted healthcare products continues to rise, we have the opportunity and the potential to create meaningful benefits for patients, consumers and our shareholders.

“I’m looking forward to working with Andrew and other leaders over the next few months to ensure a smooth handover and to develop plans for 2017 and beyond.”

Photo: Emma Walmsley (GSK website)

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