Just a year after executing the biggest med-tech acquisition ever, Medtronic PLC is hiring a new chief financial officer with a deep background in banking.
Karen Parkhill, 50, will become CFO and executive vice president of Medtronic, effective June 20. Longtime CFO Gary Ellis, who is serving under his third CEO since getting Medtronic’s top finance job in 2005, plans to remain on the company’s executive committee and continue managing activities related to last year’s acquisition for up to a year after Parkhill’s arrival.
“I am delighted to add someone with Karen’s deep expertise and insights to the Medtronic leadership team,” Chief Executive Omar Ishrak said a written announcement. “Given Karen’s extensive background across all of the major disciplines within finance, and her direct experience as an investment banker, I am confident in her ability to lead our global finance organization and believe she will be a strong representative to our investors and Wall Street.”
Parkhill comes to the Minnesota-run maker of medical devices from Dallas, where she was chief financial officer and vice chairman of Comerica, a financial services company with $69 billion in assets and locations in half a dozen states.
As CFO at Comerica, she was responsible for all financial reporting and directly managed departments including accounting, finance, and corporate planning and development at the publicly traded company. Before that job she had responsibilities for corporate compliance and financial intelligence for Comerica’s service company, her bio on the Comerica website says.
All told she spent five years at Comerica, before her departure was announced Tuesday.
Before Comerica, Parkhill rose through the ranks at JPMorgan Chase and Co.
In 1992 Parkhill joined JPMorgan’s investment banking division and held various roles of increasing responsibility, including an associate job in the mergers-and-acquisitions group, before becoming CFO of the firm’s commercial banking business. The commercial banking branch serves medium-sized companies with financial planning and investment activity.
“At any investment bank, there are plenty of hard-charging people. What I’ve always liked about Karen is that she is very capable and obviously she has had enormous success in her career, but she’s very comfortable in her own skin, she’s helpful to others, and she can in rapid fashion understand what the issues are and address them in a constructive manner,” said JPMorgan Vice Chairman Robbie Huffines, who has known Parkhill since the early 1990s. “It’s a very powerful combination.”
Last year American Banker magazine named Parkhill one of the 25 most powerful women in banking.
Although her professional experience is in banking, Parkhill has served on the board of directors of Dallas’ eight-hospital Methodist Health System since April 2014. She has also volunteered as a national trustee for the Boys and Girls Club of America since 2013.
“She’s an extremely good listener … but when she has something to say, everyone listens,” said Stephen Mansfield, chief executive of Methodist Health System.
Mansfield noted that he had to work hard to recruit Parkhill to a three-year term on Methodist’s board of directors. Once on board, Parkhill ended up serving on a key board subcommittee, on management development and compensation.
Ellis, the outgoing Medtronic CFO at age 59, has been with the company for 27 years, working as the finance chief under CEOs Ishrak, Bill Hawkins and Art Collins.
He presided over Medtronic’s $49.9 billion acquisition of surgical supplier Covidien in January 2015, a deal that quickly expanded Medtronic’s market cap north of $110 billion and moved the combined companies’ headquarters to Dublin, Ireland.
A Medtronic spokesman confirmed that Ellis intends to retire by April 2017, to ensure Parkhill has ample time and support to transition into her new role.
Beginning June 20, Ellis’ title will become executive vice president for global operations, information technology, and facilities and real estate — all functions related to the ongoing integration of Covidien into Medtronic.