Microsoft Adds GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley As The Fifth Woman To Its Board

Four years ago, Microsoft only had two women on its board, but news has surfaced that GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley is nominated to become the fifth.

This report comes with the announcement that former vice chairman of AT&T, Bank of America, and Helmut Panke is not seeking reelection after 16 years on Microsoft’s board.

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Walmsley became CEO of the 300-year-old company GlaxoSmithKline in April of 2017, making her the first and only woman to run a major pharmaceutical firm. Since her appointment, she’s led a global restructuring program that looks to save over $500 million a year by 2021. Before joining GSK, Walmsley worked for L’Oreal in a variety of marketing and general management roles in Paris, London, Shanghai and New York. She holds an MA in classics and modern languages from Oxford University.

The industry thought leader whose revered for her innovation and success is already being touted as a valuable addition to the board.

“Emma is an accomplished business leader who led major advances in research and development at GSK and will bring her significant insights and global experience to Microsoft,” said John Thompson, Microsoft’s independent board chair.

Her only two external appointments are as the co-chair of the Consumer, Retail and Life Sciences Council, as well as an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. But her potential appointment to Microsoft’s board could be mutually beneficial to both companies. As GSK’s digital transformation progresses, so too does Microsoft’s vested interest in healthcare.

Four years ago, just two of Microsoft’s 10 directors were women. Women are underrepresented among Microsoft’s top ranks and more widely across the tech industry but the last few years have seen an upward momentum of women commanding senior roles. If Walmsley is elected, Microsoft’s board of directors will consist of five women, including include Gap finance chief, Teri List-Stoll; operating partner at Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Sandra Peterson; founder of PSP Partners, Penny Pritzker; and CEO of Fable Group and a former top executive at Cisco and Motorola, Padmasree Warrior.

Walmsley will be presented for election at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, to be held on December 4, 2019.