Walmsley Named New CEO of GSK

21.09.2016 -

Emma Walmsley has been named to succeed Andrew Witty as CEO of the UK’s largest drugmaker on his retirement at the end of March 2017. Prior to that, the 47-year-old, who will have the distinction of being the first woman to run a major pharmaceutical company, will join the board of directors from Jan. 1.

GSK’s CEO-designate, who holds an MA in classics and modern languages from Britain’s Oxford University, is married and has four children, joined the drugmaker in 2010 from L’Oreal. In her 17 years with the French consumer cosmetics producer she held a variety of marketing and general management roles in the UK, Europe and USA. From 2007 she was based in Shanghai as general manager, consumer products for L’Oreal China.

Walmsley currently heads GSK’s consumer healthcare business, established as part of the multibillion-dollar 2014 deal in which GSK swapped its cancer-drug unit for Novartis's vaccine business. Some analysts speculate that her selection as CEO may reduce the chances the consumer division will be spun off.

Witty, who had been seen as under pressure from London financial markets to boost profits or break up the company into smaller units, announced his planned retirement in March of this year.  After he leaves the chief executive’s chair, the 52-year old manager who began his career as a GSK trainee and has been CEO since 2008, will take a seat on the board of directors.