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GSK hires ex-Walmart executive to boost tech operations, digital platforms

Major drugmakers are grappling with the impact of technology on their businesses

Reuters  |  London 

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has appointed former Wal-Mart Stores executive Karenann Terrell to the new senior position of chief digital and officer as the drugmaker looks to harness smart tech systems across the group.

The move reflects a desire by Chief Executive Emma Walmsley, who took over in April, to apply in everything from clinical trials to customer interactions. It comes a day before reports quarterly results.

Major are grappling with the impact of on their businesses, as digital apps offer patients new ways to monitor their and with prescribers and consumers become routine.

For Walmsley, Terrell is another important appointment following the hiring of former AstraZeneca Luke Miels, who will also join in September.

Both will be key lieutenants as the CEO strives to improve the competitive profile of the company's operations, which range from vaccines and prescription drugs to toothpaste.

Terrell, who left Wal-Mart as chief information officer in February, will join on Sept. 4 and will be a member of the senior corporate executive team in her new role, said.

Prior to working at Wal-Mart, Terrell was at U.S. group Baxter International and before that at Daimler Chrysler.

"The impact of on the industry is accelerating and requires us to rethink our approach," Walmsley said in a statement.

"As a member of the executive team, Karenann will have the scope to think radically about how we can exploit the latest opportunities and ultimately improve our performance."

Walmsley, who previously headed GSK's consumer unit after 17 years at L'Oreal, is known for her focus on benchmarking performance and has already flagged her intention to improve returns at

Her top priority is expected to be overhauling pharmaceutical research, where the company has lagged behind rivals in terms of generating multibillion-dollar blockbusters in recent years.

Walmsley will outline her vision for alongside second-quarter results on Wednesday, when she is likely to detail plans to streamline the R&D pipeline and ensure is more closely aligned to commercial opportunities.

GSK's results are set to benefit once again from a weak pound, after last year's vote, as well as strong demand for HIV and the failure so far of generic firms to win approval for U.S. copies of its inhaled lung Advair.