Longtime Gilead CFO Washington set to retire, leaving new CEO O'Day a hole to fill

Gilead Sciences' Robin Washington oversees finance, investor relations, facilities and operations, plus IT. (BusinessWire)

Gilead Sciences just got a new CEO in Daniel O'Day, and now it'll be in the market for a new chief financial officer. The biotech's longtime financial chief Robin Washington plans to retire next March, setting the stage for another big executive search. 

Washington has been at Gilead since 2008 and now oversees quite a bit at the drugmaker. Currently, she leads finance, investor relations, facilities and operations, plus IT, Gilead said. Tuesday, Google’s parent company Alphabet said it named her to its board. 

“It has been my great honor to serve as Gilead’s CFO for more than 10 years, and to work alongside the talented team we have in place across our CFO organization and Gilead at large,” Washington said in a statement. “Together, we’ve played a role in the important work this company does to deliver ground-breaking treatment advances to people all over the world.”

Washington won’t retire from Gilead until March 1, 2020, so she plans to work with O’Day and the company's leadership team to ensure a “seamless” transition. She's the second executive to announce a departure during O'Day's short tenure at the company; oncology leader Alessandro Riva left back in March to take the helm of Glenmark's R&D spinoff.

“During my short time here, I have been impressed with the strategic expertise that Robin brings to her role and the dedication she has for our mission and the patients we serve,” O’Day said in a statement. “It is equally clear that she has built a strong team across the organizations she leads."

RELATED: Gilead, looking for cancer sales, swipes Roche pharma chief Daniel O'Day for CEO post 

During her time at Gilead, Washington has been a part of a transformation for the company. Gilead has long been focused on HIV, but in recent years, the drugmaker made a fortune in hepatits C, pulling in more than $32 billion in total revenue in 2015. Then, as competition mounted in the field, Gilead’s hep C sales crumbled, taking its top line down to $21.7 billion last year and forcing the drugmaker to look elsewhere for growth. 

So far, it's looked to oncology. Gilead has a leadership position in CAR-T drugs thanks to its 2017 purchase of Kite Pharma, but last year, Yescarta pulled in $264 million—not nearly enough to offset the company’s hep C slide, even with help from new HIV launch Biktarvy.

So it’ll now be up to Gilead’s new CEO O’Day to right the course. O’Day joined Gilead this year from cancer giant Roche, and many market watchers saw his appointment as an indication Gilead was serious about pumping up oncology growth.

RELATED: Gilead executives predict patience—and some deal scouting—from new CEO Daniel O'Day 

If Gilead names a new CFO before March of next year, Washington will stay on until the company reports full 2019 results.