UnitedHealth Group Announces Executive Leadership Actions

February 04, 2021 | 4 min Read
  • Andrew Witty to Become CEO of UnitedHealth Group

  • Dirk McMahon to Become President, COO; Will Join Witty and John Rex, CFO, in Chief Executive Office

  • David Wichmann, current CEO, Retires After Successful Tenure

  • Changes Ensure Seamless Continuity of Company’s Strategy, Operations and Results

The Board of Directors of UnitedHealth Group has named Sir Andrew Witty as chief executive officer, succeeding David S. Wichmann, who retires after successfully guiding the company through a period of growth and innovation and the deeply challenging onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“As we have come to know firsthand during his time at UnitedHealth Group, Andrew Witty combines an extraordinary breadth and depth of health care experience, sophisticated strategic thinking and outstanding leadership development skills, making him uniquely well-positioned to help the company take the next steps on its steady path to grow and deliver for its shareholders and the customers and people we are privileged to serve,” said Stephen J. Hemsley, chairman of the UnitedHealth Group Board of Directors. 

“I am deeply honored to help guide one of the most consequential organizations in health care, where our responsibility is to execute flawlessly and deliver on our potential each day,” said Witty. “Together with my partners Dirk McMahon and John Rex, we have the right strategy, and tremendous people and capabilities throughout the organization to continue strengthening our efforts to improve the health system for everyone. Dave Wichmann is leaving a powerful legacy of service to others and commitment to innovation for us to build upon.”

Witty was named CEO of Optum in March 2018 and added the role of president, UnitedHealth Group, in November 2019. He previously served as a UnitedHealth Group company director. From April 2020 to December 2020, Witty took an unpaid leave of absence from his company positions to serve as a Global Envoy for the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 efforts. He also served as an advisor to the UK Government Vaccine Taskforce. From 2008 to 2017, Witty was CEO and a director of the leading pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK).

He will rejoin the UnitedHealth Group Board of Directors and becomes CEO immediately, with Wichmann continuing in a transition period through March 2021.

“Dave is an outstanding leader, and the Board and I are deeply appreciative of his contributions to the company’s continued success,” Hemsley said. “As CEO, Dave helped build an unmatched set of distinctive capabilities, market positions and capacities that will continue to contribute to a high-performing and more equitable health system for everyone. Dave’s restless spirit, growth mindset and determination for UnitedHealth Group to lead in the development of the next-generation health system in a socially conscious way will serve as a model of servant leadership for years to come.”

Witty, Chief Financial Officer John Rex, and Dirk McMahon, as the new president and chief operating officer, will constitute the company’s Chief Executive Office. 

McMahon has served as CEO of UnitedHealthcare since June 2019. Prior to this role, McMahon was president and chief operating officer, Optum. McMahon has served in a number of leadership positions across the enterprise since joining the company in 2003, including CEO, OptumRx, overseeing UnitedHealth Group's pharmacy benefit management programs, along with various management positions in information technology, operations and finance. Before joining UnitedHealth Group, McMahon was head of airport operations worldwide for Northwest Airlines.

As executive vice president and CFO of UnitedHealth Group since June 2016, Rex has an expansive operating, growth and finance portfolio. He joined the company in 2012 as executive vice president and CFO of Optum. Prior to that, Rex was a leading equity research analyst, served as a strategy and operational consultant, and practiced as a certified public accountant across several health care sectors.

“Dirk’s unparalleled operational track record is grounded in his deep engagement with and understanding of the people of the organization and the needs of customers and consumers, and I am grateful he will be helping drive the enterprise forward.  In John Rex we have an industry-leading executive with a demonstrated track record in strategy, business development and finance whose acumen will help guide the continued, sustainable growth of our company,” said Witty.

“I am eager to partner with John and Dirk and our 330,000 colleagues throughout the company to advance the health of those we serve,” said Witty.

Wichmann joined UnitedHealth Group in 1998 and became its CEO in September 2017. He served as CFO from 2011 until mid-2016 when he became president. He had previously led UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealth Group’s enterprise-wide operations and technology efforts, along with external development, M&A and integration activities at the company.

The company reiterated its 2021 outlook for adjusted net earnings of $17.75 to $18.25 per share and its commitment to a long term 13% to 16% growth rate.

About UnitedHealth Group

UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

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