GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has appointed Emma Walmsley as chief executive, making her the most powerful woman in the UK’s FTSE 100 index.
Walmsley, who joined the company in 2010, is currently the CEO of GSK’s £6billion consumer healthcare business.
The new group CEO will take over from Sir Andrew Witty when he retires in March after eight years in charge. EasyJet, Imperial Brands, Whitbread, Royal Mail and Kingfisher are the only other FTSE 100 companies to be run by women.
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 continue to rise, we have the opportunity and the potential to create meaningful benefits for patients, consumers and our shareholders.”
GSK’s chairman Sir Philip Hampton is leading a government review into increasing the number of women in senior executive role.
The independent review builds on the work started by Mervyn Davies that increased female board representation in FTSE 100 companies from 12.6% in 2011 to 26% in 2015. In October, Davies called for women to make up at least a third of FTSE 350 boardrooms.
Hampton commented: “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.”