Guardian Media Group names Annette Thomas as CEO

Annette Thomas has been named CEO of Guardian Media Group by its board, to start on 2 March.

Anna Bateson will continue in as interim chief executive until then, before returning to her post as chief customer officer. She has acted in the interim role since last month, following David Pemsel’s exit.

Thomas begins in the role in March

Pemsel left as chief executive after four years to head up the English Premier League, but resigned from that position two months before even starting, after allegations were made that he propositioned a Guardian employee via text messages.

Thomas has led publishing and data analytics businesses for 25 years, most recently as CEO of Web of Science Group, a data, analytics and software company focused on research and higher education. While in the role, the company listed on the New York Stock Exchange as part of Clarivate Analytics.

“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,” said the board’s chair, Neil Berkett.

“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.”

A trained scientist, Thomas also spent time as CEO of Macmillan Science and Education, CEO of Macmillan Publishers, and managing director of Nature Publishing Group.

While at Macmillan Science and Education, she oversaw the merger between Macmillan and Springer Science and Business Media, and founded called Digital Science, a startup incubator for academic researchers.

She is also a trustee of Yale University and non-executive director of Cambridge University’s press and assessment businesses.

“I am delighted to be joining Guardian Media Group as chief executive. 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,” Thomas said.

“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.”

She added that there has never been a greater need for journalism like the Guardian’s: “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.”


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