TURNING AROUND GlaxoSmithKline

In the latest organizational change management book, SUNDAY ON THE HILL, I talked about Emma Walmsley who had been recently appointed as CEO, GlaxoSmithKline when that book was being written.  So an update to Ms. Walmsley’s career at GSK is in order.  Unsurprisingly, she is effecting the fastest turnaround at a major pharmaceutical company to date.  For those of you who, like me, are aficionados of organizational change and its specific elements, Ms. Walmsley’s changes are instructive.  In her first year on the job, she has replaced approximately half of the top 125 executives at the firm; has reassigned or dismissed 400 scientists in GSK’s drug development unit; and has placed an additional 100 science jobs on the chopping block.  She is also shutting down at least two dozen clinical drug trials and closing at least nine manufacturing sites, in her overall goal of narrowing the focus of GSK’s drug-discovery portfolio. As evidence of the need for these changes, recent data show that GSK lags far behind in the annualized economic return to R&D spending, in data results from 2007-2016.  Through the organizational and personnel changes, Ms. Walmsley plans to effect an annual cost savings of approximately $1.4 billion by 2020.  Not bad for a first year!

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