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Merck & Co picks Nike exec to be digital transformation leader

Cyber-security and customer focus will be key issues

Merck & Co has appointed Nike’s Jim Scholefield to be its new chief information and digital officer, continuing a trend in pharma to hire in expertise from the consumer world.

Scholefield starts work at the US pharma giant on 29 October and will be responsible for leading Merck & Co's (MSD outside North America) IT and digital strategy, increasingly seen as a vital factor in driving business efficiencies and commercial success.

Jim Scolefield

Jim Scholefield

He will also have oversight of cyber-security – a big issue for the company after a ransomware attack in June 2017 brought the company to a grinding halt.

Scholefield will be part of the company’s executive committee, reflecting how integral the digital transformation drive is to the business.

Currently Nike’s chief information officer, Scholefield led the creation of the sportswear giant’s new enterprise architecture, including the upgrade of critical infrastructure and delivery of state-of-the art cyber-security.

He then championed the digital transformation of Nike, using new technology in order to serve consumers “faster and more personally at scale”. The company launched its customised trainer service several years ago, operating under the slogan “you design it we make it” with a normal turnaround time of 3-5 weeks.

It is this kind of digitally enabled speed and customer focus which the big pharma giants are now all pursuing, as more and more interactions with healthcare professionals go digital.

Prior to Nike, Jim was chief technology officer at Coca-Cola and held leadership roles in Information Technology at The Northern Trust Company and Ford. He began his career at Procter & Gamble.

"I’m honoured and excited to have the opportunity to join Merck, a company that has made – and continues to make – a significant difference in the world,” said Scholefield. “I look forward to contributing to the executive committee and to helping the company further succeed by driving industry-leading technology and digital capabilities across all aspects of the business.”

The announcement follows hot on the heels of a similar move from Pfizer last week, with the hiring of Lidia Fonseca as its chief information officer, poached from Quest Diagnostics.

Last year saw GSK lure Karenann Terrell from Walmart and Novartis hire Bertrand Bodson, from Sainsbury's Argos, to be its chief digital officer.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

18th October 2018

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