Global Industry

Meet One of the Most Powerful Executives in the Global Pharma Industry

At a time when UK firms are pledging to hire more female executives, GlaxoSmithKline has done just that by appointing Emma Walmsley as their new CEO. She will take over from Andrew Witty when he retires next year, and the move is an excellent development for women in pharma, ensuring that there is another distinct crack forming in the glass ceiling.

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Walmsley is the newest addition to an exclusive group of women which includes Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo and Mary Barra of General Motors, all in charge of big businesses globally.

A Powerful Female Presence in Pharmaceuticals

Walmsley’s new role means that she will officially be the pharmaceutical industry’s most influential woman. This appointment has set GlaxoSmithKline apart from its nearest competitors, including Pfizer, Novartis, Merck, Sanofi and AstraZeneca, where men hold the top jobs.

The pharmaceutical consulting industry recognises the importance of gender parity, with agencies such as making further steps towards eradicating the glass ceiling.

Walmsley’s Career to Date

Spending the majority of her career in marketing and management positions at L’Oreal, Walmsley has spent time in a number of cities including New York, Paris, London and Shanghai. After a networking lunch in 2010 Walmsley was offered a position within GlaxoSmithKline by Andrew Witty. She later went on to describe this as the opportunity of a lifetime in an article written for LeanIn, a website run by Sheryl Sandberg which offers support and advice for women as they take steps to advance their careers across a number of industries.

Walmsley has delivered impressive results during her time at GlaxoSmithKline. As head of their Consumer Healthcare division, which produces products including Tums antacids and Sensodyne toothpaste, she drove over £6billion of sales in 2015.

Including his salary, perks and bonus, in 2015 Andrew Witty earned more than £6million. Walmsley’s salary is currently in the negotiation stages, and will be made public in the early stages of 2017.

Seven of the largest publicly traded companies in the UK will have female CEOs when Walmsley begins her new role. There are still moves to be made in order to ensure equal gender representation throughout big business, but this announcement demonstrates that results are beginning to be seen as a direct result of this global gender discussion.