GlaxoSmithKline chief recruits new CFO Iain Mackay to spearhead cost-cutting effort

With GlaxoSmithKline CFO Simon Dingemans on his way out, the pharma giant needed someone to push through its newly announced restructuring plan. And CEO Emma Walmsley has made her choice.

The company appointed Iain Mackay, currently group finance director at banking giant HSBC, as its next CFO and an executive director on Glaxo’s board. He’ll join GSK’s executive team and board next January, and he’ll formally take over the CFO role April 1, the pharma giant said.

Mackay joins a roster of top executives that has changed quite a bit since Walmsley was deemed CEO-in-waiting back in 2016, and he'll be crunching the numbers as her revamp of the company plays out. 

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While Mackay doesn’t have experience at a drugmaker, he’s got plenty at a “complex, regulated global organization,” Walmsley said in a statement. And importantly for GSK, which rolled out a major restructuring plan late last month, he is “is a strong leader with a track record of driving cost, cash and capital allocation discipline to deliver strategy.”

“These capabilities will be vital as we continue to implement our innovation, performance and trust priorities for the benefit of patients and shareholders,” she added.

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Mackay will be tasked with presiding over the cost-cutting drive, which the pharma giant thinks can save it £400 million per year by 2021. Glaxo expects the plan to cost £1.7 billion to execute, spread out over the next three years.

Walmsley has been busy remaking Glaxo’s top ranks since before she officially stepped in for former skipper Andrew Witty. The departures of R&D chief Patrick Vallance, pharma head Abbas Hussain, vaccines chairman Moncef Slaoui and ViiV CEO Dominique Limet made room for some key hires, including high-profile Roche vet Hal Barron—now GSK’s head of R&D—and pharma chief Luke Miels, whom Walmsley poached from AstraZeneca.

And the executive shuffling didn’t stop there. Within her first nine months on the job, Walmsley replaced 40% of GSK’s top management team.