Having built a career at Colgate-Palmolive and L’Oréal, it was during his time at Google that Swiss-born Marc Speichert found GSK. When he heard the pharma company was hiring a chief digital officer, he jumped on the opportunity. “When I was at L’Oréal, we talked about how beauty and digital are a perfect match. Health and digital are an even better match,” he says. “We deliver on our mission as a company to do more, feel better, and live longer.”
Speichert describes his career as “very anchored in marketing,” yet exhibits passion to support a more digital mindset across the firm. And he is not alone: In 2017, Karenann Terrell, formerly of Walmart, joined GSK as chief digital and tech officer to improve the use of new tech across the group.
Speichert embraces and drives new ways of working at GSK, including the development of an advisory board whose purpose is to “push us harder on the boldness of our thinking.” He specifically seeks individuals from other industries who have a completely different perspective. Another program pairs GSK leaders from multiple disciplines with peers outside their industry. For example, an HR exec might be paired with a peer from the tech industry. “This is great because it challenges my thinking,” says Speichert.
One of his proudest achievements is developing the infrastructure that allows GSK to flex digital muscle while creating efficiencies. His team looked at a number of disparate functions, from finance to marketing, and remixed to form an end-to-end team, from early insight to the actual innovation. GSK was also the first health company to directly partner with Google on its tech stack.
With the right infrastructure in place, the company can bring campaign ideas to life in a fresh way. While Speichert notes consumer healthcare is not perceived as bleeding edge, “we have shown it can be creative and breakthrough.” From a cultural perspective, he seeks to infuse courage, bravery, and boldness in how GSK does things, and at a new pace. As pharma moves from a product to a platform focus, the highly strategic approach requires a focus on new infrastructure and services to meet the needs of customers in new ways. Ultimately, Speichert notes, “digital is all about execution and the devil is in the details.”
The approach has paid off — the Gartner L2 Digital IQ Index shows GSK as competitive with top personal care brands such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble.