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Haleon, a consumer health company with a purpose to “deliver better everyday health with humanity,” was formed in July 2022 as a result of GSK’s decision to separate its consumer healthcare division while it forged a new path as a biopharma business. So, with a bold ambition to migrate the operations of the newly created Haleon business to the cloud, the company enlisted our help in managing a complex technology separation for what would be the UK’s largest demerger in 30 years.
The demerger would create two great companies, allowing GSK to lean into biopharma while launching Haleon as an independent global leader in consumer health with the freedom to accelerate its time to market and product innovations. But while the decision to separate was straightforward, the how was significantly more complicated.
How we helped
History suggests that transformations of this scale and complexity rarely go smoothly. Any system downtime stemming from the transition could lead to millions of dollars in lost sales. Despite the risks, GSK set an ambitious goal: Complete the entire infrastructure modernization ahead of day one.
The rapid time line wasn’t the only complication. GSK was already running its own ambitious transformation as part of its integration with Pfizer, diverting time and energy while creating a moving target for this demerger’s launch. The global pandemic threw yet another curveball, forcing the more than 500 full-time employees involved in the transition to deliver much of the program remotely.
Avoiding unnecessary pitfalls required careful planning, expedited decision making, transparency, and focus on change management. So, moving full speed ahead, we helped GSK identify the critical tech and planning decisions that would drive success, establish a governance structure that would build consensus on key changes and risks, and fortify its team with new capabilities.
“We really needed to hire over 600 people in what was about a 12-month span to be able to catch all this work,” says Amy Landucci, chief digital and technology officer at Haleon. In fact, 70% of Haleon’s new employees were in place before day one.
With so much change and a looming deadline, a two-in-a-box model united Haleon’s business and tech teams with GSK’s counterparts, which helped to eliminate friction. This team scrutinized 1,300 systems across 100 sites in 80 countries to make sure they were taking along only what they really needed. This rationalization process ultimately resulted in a simpler tech landscape of 800 systems, a 100% cloud-based infrastructure, and a shift to a more agile, product owner–based model.
Extensive planning culminated in a four-wave phased cutover designed to minimize disruption, costs, and delivery risks. Thanks to meticulous planning and an all-in mentality, the process went smoothly: The GSK and Haleon IT systems separation was delivered on time and at cost.
Haleon’s investment in cloud-based infrastructure has helped it improve operational efficiency. Additionally, it has allowed the company to better understand customers’ needs and connect with experts and other stakeholders in new ways.
The harmonious split resulted in two great companies that are better and stronger apart. Not only did the tech separation allow Haleon to start its journey with streamlined systems in place, it also helped leadership build new muscles in the process. “It’s very rare that you get to really look at an organization end to end right across its scale,” says says Kelly Ellis, VP head of customer at Haleon. “Not only have we got this opportunity to own everything, we've got this sense of excitement and purpose.”