Guardian Media Group (GMG) has shown some out-of-the-box thinking with the appointment of Annette Thomas, a neuroscientist and academic publisher, as its new chief executive.
She replaces David Pemsel, who announced his intention to depart last year after being appointed to run the Premier League. However, he quit before taking up the role after facing accusations about his personal conduct. Its chief customer officer Anna Bateson was then named interim chief executive.
However, Thomas will now lead its push for financial stability by leveraging her experience in scientific journal publishing. She has a PhD from Yale University in cell biology and neuroscience which, on paper, is an unconventional starting point for a media executive. She began her career editing scientific journals at Nature before leading specialist publisher Macmillan Science and Education and most recently spent two years at Clairvate Analytics.
The American has been living in the UK for the last 25 years and is particularly focused on “developing a financially sustainable future” now the group finally broke a profit.
Neil Berkett, chair of the GMG board, said: “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.”
Thomas said she was attracted by The Guardian brand's "progressive perspective, global reach, and unique ownership structure with its values safeguarded by the Scott Trust are all significant strengths in these challenging times".
She added that she was looking to develop new business models off the back of The Guardian's "deep and loyal relationship with readers".
“The need and appetite for trusted high-quality journalism, grounded in facts, has never been greater," she said. "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 takes up the role in March 2020.