GfK names new global head; US CEO shifting to consultant role

Stephen Hearn
Stephen Hearn

Richard Vanderveer, one of the industry's most well-recognized leaders, is leaving his post as US CEO of GfK, and Stephen Hearn has been named to the new position of global head, Hearn told clients in a letter announcing the marketing-research giant's move toward a single global organization and brand.

Other internal changes disclosed as part of the move include the assembly of a global leadership board comprised of GfK executives who previously managed country-level healthcare agencies. The board includes Hearn, based in London, along with six others from the US and Europe. Externally, all agencies around the world will carry the name “GfK HealthCare.”

In a letter revealing the changes that was emailed to clients, Hearn said he will seek to optimize the business by positioning GfK HealthCare as a single global brand across the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America and operating under a single global leadership structure. He called that objective “a natural step rather than an impractical leap” that follows a period of “rapid growth.”

Hearn, who founded the subsidiary GfK Kynetec, has been on the GfK healthcare board since 2009 and will continue to lead Kynetec, which focuses on crop protection, biotech and animal health.

He called Dr. Richard Vanderveer “a pioneer, key contributor and outspoken voice for the pharmaceutical marketing research profession” and said the CEO of the former US organization will assume a strategic consulting role for the new global entity. Vanderveer has served as the face of GfK in the US since his firm, V2, was acquired by GfK in 2003.

In another executive management transition, Daniel Fitzgerald is retiring as CFO of the former US organization. GfK is also creating a dedicated global product development team and that GfK's healthcare division will align within its Custom Research sector.

GfK HealthCare is the largest healthcare marketing-research firm in the world in terms of worldwide presence—40 countries—and staff—600. Parent company GfK is the fourth largest marketing-research organization, with a staff numbering 10,000.