Witty's first year a slow-but-steady progression

Happy anniversary, Andrew Witty (photo). The GlaxoSmithKline CEO is about to round out his first year at the company's helm, so assessments are in order. The Financial Times took a look at Witty's performance, which deserves an A for "as promised," but perhaps a "D" in "development."

Witty wins kudos for doing exactly as he said he'd do. He's diversified the company with a canny use of strategic alliances and small bolt-on acquisitions. He's resisted the lure of the fix-it-all megamerger, teaming up with rival Pfizer on HIV drugs instead. He's focused on "growth with lower risk." He's built his own team, in part through recruiting Eli Lilly execs Abbas Hussein (who's running the emerging markets area) and Deirdre Connolly (who heads up U.S. ops).

Plus, the FT says, Witty has aimed for more openness amongst the executive team by moving their--and his--offices to the HQ building's first level from the less-than-accessible 12th floor. He's made some strides toward building a more ethical image for Glaxo by promising to disclose and limit doctor payments, stop its political contributions and dial back prices for meds in the developing world.

But--and there always is one in the realm of executive performance--Witty hasn't done much to shore up Glaxo's pipeline or deliver new meds. The HPV vaccine Cervarix is still lacking FDA approval, for instance. Plus, investors don't seem to be convinced that Witty's slow-and-steady approach is working. At least with shareholders, it looks like Witty's got some 'splaining to do.

- read the FT piece

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