Who: Emma Walmsley, 47
New role: The next CEO of global pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, effective April 1. She succeeds Andrew Witty, 52, who will retire at the end of March. Walmsley will also join U.K.-based Glaxo's board of directors Jan. 1.
Background: Walmsley is head of Glaxo's consumer healthcare division, a 2015 joint venture between Novartis and Glaxo responsible for over-the-counter drugstore products such as Sensodyne toothpaste. Before joining Glaxo in 2010, she spent 17 years with cosmetics company L'Oreal in the U.S., Europe and China.
Focus on R&D: A top priority as CEO will be investing “appropriately and strongly” in research and development of new vaccines and drugs, particularly for HIV and respiratory and rare diseases. “R&D is absolutely the beating heart of our company,” she said in a video interview conducted by Glaxo.
A growth market: Walmsley sees “huge opportunities for growth” in the face of the pharma industry's many challenges, such as pricing, a tough regulatory environment and a lack of consumer trust. “This is a growth sector with demographics on our side ... And we're also at a time of unprecedented scientific and technological change.”