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GSK hires ex-Walmart CIO Karenann Terrell as chief digital officer

Pharmaceutical giant GSK is building out its executive tech team with the appointment of its first chief digital officer

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is expanding the tech talent in its executive team through the appointment of former Walmart chief information officer (CIO) Karenann Terrell as its first chief digital and technology officer.

Terrell will join the pharmaceutical giant on 4 September 2017, and will be responsible for developing the company’s digital, data and analytics strategy.

She will also oversee a wide-scale overhaul of how technology is used in clinical trials, new drug development and in the company’s interactions with the healthcare providers who make use of its products.

GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said adding Terrell’s expertise to the mix will help ensure the company is equipped to respond to the rapidly changing expectations of consumers in healthcare.

“The impact of technology on the healthcare industry is accelerating and requires us to rethink our approach,” she said.

“As a member of the executive team, Karenann will have the scope to think radically about how we can exploit the latest opportunities and ultimately improve our business performance.”

Terrell trained as an engineer at university, and – aside from Walmart – has also served CIO at US motoring giant Daimler Chrysler, having started her career in 1986 working for General Motors in a mix of manufacturing, engineering and brand management roles.

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GSK already has a serving group CIO, and Terrell’s appointment suggests GSK realises how much of a boardroom priority technology in the healthcare industry now is, said Farida Gibbs, founder and CEO of talent management company Gibbs Hybrid.

“GSK’s move to create a new senior role responsible for digital change is admirable, as it points to the growing realisation that it should be a boardroom priority across every industry,” she said.

“Of course, the challenge when making these high-level appointments is that the tech skills shortage we see across almost all areas of the industry is exacerbated when it comes to boardroom talent.

“GSK has been able to secure the talents of Terrell, who was responsible for Walmart’s CIO brief, but board-level digital experience is hard to come by,” said Gibbs.

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