GSK names Burberry’s Julie Brown as its new CFO

by Stephen Riddle

GSK has said that its chief financial officer Iain Mackay will stand down from the role in May next year, to be replaced by Julie Brown, currently chief operating and financial officer at luxury fashion group Burberry.

Julie Brown

Brown isn’t a newbie to the pharma sector however, having previously held roles at UK drugmaker AstraZeneca and medical device player Smith & Nephew, as well as serving as a non-executive director and audit chair at Roche before stepping down from that role today.

She will be GSK’s first female CFO, joining GSK chief executive Dame Emma Walmsley to create an all-too-uncommon all-female top management team at a multinational pharma group.

Brown will receive an annual base salary of around £900,000 at GSK, said the company, and will join GSK next April for a transition period before taking the CFO role and an executive director position on 1 May.

Mackay has been CFO at the UK big pharma since the beginning of 2019, and is departing the company shortly after the spin-out of consumer health business Haleon in order to focus on prescription drugs and vaccines.

He has been at the company throughout its recent reorganisation, and overseen a number of significant deals including the acquisitions of Affinivax and Sierra Oncology for $2.1 billion and $1.9 billion, respectively.

Walmsley said Mackay has “played a very significant role to help deliver the reshaping of GSK and to improve our operating and financial performance,” and welcomed the new CFO, highlighting Brown’s “tremendous understanding of the biopharma sector.”

“We also share a strong passion for people development, diversity, inclusion and sustainability,” said Walmsley. “I am looking forward to working together to deliver progress for patients, shareholders and our people.”

Brown is also a member of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recently launched Business Council, set up to work in partnership with the government to drive a “high productivity, high growth economy” in the UK.

GSK’s chair Jonathan Symonds also thanked Mackay for his service, saying he has been “a highly valued member of the board and has provided strong support to Emma and the management team.” GSK has been under some pressure of late from activist investors seeking changes to its strategy and senior management.

“We are delighted that Julie will join the Board as Iain’s successor,” added Symonds. “She is a CFO of exceptional calibre and experience and I look forward to the contribution she will make.”

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