2023 Women of Excellence, Executive of the Year

Haleon's Katie Williams is the Path to Purchase Institute's 2023 Women of Excellence Executive of the Year.

Katie Williams

U.S. Chief Marketing Officer

Katie Williams joined GSK Consumer Health in November 2020 as the U.S. chief marketing officer. She was charged with helping steward the marketing organization to a standalone consumer health business. Haleon was created in 2022 to unlock the full potential of one of the world’s largest consumer health businesses — and the separation from GSK enabled Haleon to pursue its ambition of delivering better everyday health with humanity and unlocking a growth strategy rooted in purpose.

For Haleon, that meant combining its trusted science with deep human understanding to help make healthcare more achievable, more inclusive and more sustainable for millions of consumers around the world. For Williams and her team, it meant focusing on unlocking richer consumer experiences and brand building through modern marketing mediums and methods, and translating that to how Haleon’s brands come to life in social, digitally across retailer and owned platforms, and in-store.

With the same title but now under the Haleon umbrella since July 2022, Williams has seen success at delivering the company’s growth ambition while advancing its purpose-driven commitments. In the first year, it launched several initiatives, including Theraflu’s “Rest and Recover” program — which drove awareness to the lack of paid sick leave that too many Americans face, and a micro-grant program to help bridge that gap for families in need.

In September, the company launched its “Believe My Pain” initiative, a partnership with Advil, Black Health and Morehouse College Medical School designed to increase awareness of the disparities of pain treatment among Black and brown populations. Williams’ team also jointly developed an educational program to help support the next generation of health care providers. 

Consumer health care is a dynamic space, notes Williams. “If you layer on top of that the type of organizational transformation Haleon has undertaken, you can imagine every day is unique,” she says. 

Given the complexity of today’s marketplace, the list of partners and stakeholders has expanded significantly. “In the past, a typical marketer may have spent much of their time with traditional agency, media and cross-functional partners,” Williams says. But there is nothing traditional about the marketplace today, she adds, between the expansion of retailers as media partners, technology and data as a key unlock to optimizing marketing effectiveness, and establishing personal relationships with consumers. “And building new capabilities to further streamline the path to purchase, like leveraging AI to advance creative optimization. Every day requires new partners and new capabilities, and that’s something that personally drives me,” Williams notes.

Ahead of a highly anticipated music tour this summer, Williams and her team started to see through social listening that fans were organically packing Haleon products as part of their concert-going essentials and sharing their recommendations on Instagram and TikTok. The team coordinated a cross-brand product delivery of Tums, Advil, ChapStick, Emergen-C and Flonase in a clear, stadium-approved pouch to media and influencers who were attending the show. The reaction was extremely positive and the pouch was praised for its utility and ingenuity. What’s more, Haleon garnered more than 3.1 million social impressions from influencers and media like People, Elite Daily, Bustle and others.