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Jan. 14, 2020, 12:09 p.m.
LINK: www.theguardian.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Hanaa' Tameez   |   January 14, 2020

The Guardian has a new business-side leader: Annette Thomas, a veteran of the academic publishing world, will assume the role of CEO of Guardian Media Group in March.

When she does, she may well be the only head of a major media company to also have a Ph.D. in cell biology and neuroscience.

Thomas might seem to lack experience in the traditional news business, but she’s been highly successful in scientific publishing, which has seen its own share of digital transformation in the past two decades. After grad school, she began as an editor at the journal Nature and stayed at its parent company, MacMillan Publishing, in various roles for 23 years, the last nine of them as CEO, overseeing its merger with Springer Nature. (Macmillan Publishing also included more consumer-facing publications, notably Scientific American.) Most recently, she was chief executive of Web of Science Group, “a data, analytics, and software business focused on research and higher education” that is part of Clarivate Analytics. She serves on the boards of Yale and Cambridge University Press.

Per The Guardian:

Neil Berkett, the chair of the GMG board, which made the appointment, said Thomas was well-equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. He said: “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.”

“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.”

Her role was previously filled by David Pemsel, who announced last year he was leaving to become CEO of the English Premier League. (He ended up resigning from that role before he ever started after sexual harassment claims surfaced from his time at The Guardian.) At Guardian Media Group, he was making £706,000 a year ($917,492); today’s announcement doesn’t disclose Thomas’ salary.

Thomas joins The Guardian during an optimistic time for the news organization, which broke even for the first time in years in 2018 and credited its success to its online traffic and reader donations. Over the summer, GMG announced that 56 percent of its total revenue comes from digital. (More about The Guardian’s digital success here.)

Thomas’ appointment means that both the editorial and business sides of The Guardian are led by women. (Katharine Viner became editor in 2015.) And Thomas, who is of African-American and German descent, has now reached a level of power that few women of color have in the news business.

If you’re looking to learn more about Thomas, here’s an interview she did while CEO of Macmillan in 2011, and here are two talks she gave in 2018 while at Clarivate, the second on “The Future of Research Information: Open, Connected, Seamless.”

You can find the full announcement here.

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