Within the Financial Times Stock Exchange index of the top 100 UK companies, only five are led by female CEOs - Walmsley will become the sixth when she takes over GlaxoSmithKline from Andrew Witty. While EasyJet, Imperial Brands, Whitbread, Royal Mail, and Kingfisher are run by women, GlaxoSmithKline boasts a market value of £80 billion – over double that of the second-biggest female-led business on the list – making Walmsley by far the most valuable.
Walmsley is currently CEO of the Consumer Healthcare Division. She graduated from Oxford University, and while her background is in marketing rather than science, GSK Chairman Sir Philip Hampton has offered a glowing endorsement of her abilities:
“I am very pleased to announce Emma’s appointment, after what has been a very thorough and rigorous global selection process carried out by the GSK Board of Directors.
“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.”
Witty has run GSK for nearly ten years, and will leave in March. Walmsley has said of her future appointment:
“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 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 develop plans for 2017 and beyond.”