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January 14, 2020updated 30 Sep 2022 8:48am

Guardian group names scientist Annette Thomas as new chief executive

By Freddy Mayhew

Guardian Media Group, publisher of the Guardian and Observer newspapers, has named Annette Thomas as its new chief executive.

Thomas replaces David Pemsel who left last year. He had been due to take up a role at the football Premier League but this fell through after allegations about his private life were published in The Sun.

Pemsel had been instrumental in turning around GMG’s finances over a three-year project alongside editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, resulting in the group meeting its target to break even last year.

Thomas has spent 25 years in global publishing and data analytics, but first trained as a scientist at Harvard and Yale before starting her career as an editor at the journal Nature.

She went on to become managing director of Nature Publishing Group and chief executive of Macmillan Science and Education.

Most recently she worked as chief executive of the Web of Science group, a data analytics and software business focused on research and higher education, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

GMG is owned by The Scott Trust and supported by its £1bn endowment fund.

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Thomas said: “The Guardian brand, its progressive perspective, global reach, and unique ownership structure with its values safeguarded by the Scott Trust are all significant strengths in these challenging times.

“The Guardian is demonstrating that establishing a deep and loyal relationship with readers, empowering them with information and delighting them with insight, creates an opportunity to develop new business models.

“The need and appetite for trusted high-quality journalism, grounded in facts, has never been greater.

“I’ve always admired the quality and breadth of the Guardian’s journalism, and I am looking forward to working with Katharine Viner and this exceptional team to develop a financially sustainable future built upon these values and principles.”

Thomas will take up her new role, to which she was appointed by the GMG board, on 2 March. Anna Bateson will continue as interim chief executive until then, before returning to her role as chief customer officer.

GMG board chairman Neil Berkett said: “The hard work of the past three years has put GMG in a stronger position, while also making our business more digital, more international and more reader centric.

“Our journalism has had a stellar 12 months, and remains world class. Even so, it’s clear that we’ll continue to face big headwinds in the global media sector in 2020 and beyond.

“Annette is a highly experienced leader of mission-driven businesses.  Her track record is exceptional – she has consistently delivered sustainable growth through deep engagement with end-users, championing innovative new business models with more open access to content and data, and building diverse and inclusive management teams.

“All of this makes her the ideal person to lead the next phase of GMG’s evolution in partnership with our editor-in-chief Katharine Viner.”

Picture: David Levene/Guardian

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