Pharmaceutical firm Glaxo Smith Kline has announced the appointment of Emma Walmsley as the firm’s first female chief executive, taking over from its current CEO Sir Andrew Witty in 2017.

Walmsley will become one of only seven female CEOS in the FTSE 100. She is currently the firm’s head of consumer healthcare, spending 17 years at cosmetics company L’Oreal before joining Glaxo Smith Kline in 2010.

GSK’s chairman Philip Hampton commented:

“Emma is an outstanding leader with highly valuable experience of building and running major global businesses and a strong track record of delivering growth and driving performance in healthcare.”

emma walmsley
Newly appointed CEO Emma Walmsley

Current CEO Andrew Witty has been with the firm for over 30 years, overseeing initiatives including plans to drop patents in the world’s poorest countries and overseeing the development of a malaria vaccine.

In a company statement, Emma Walmsley said she was “delighted and honoured” to take on the role.

“We have the opportunity and the potential to create meaningful benefits for patients, consumers and our shareholders,” she continued.

GSK (LON:GSK) shares moved up steadily on the news, currently trading up 0.12 percent at 1,648.00 (1305GMT).

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