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BenevolentAI names former UK Minister as new Group CEO

Published on: 09/05/18

Health and drug development-focused artificial intelligence firm BenevolentAI has announced that former UK Minister for Internet Security and Safety Joanna Shields has been appointed as the company’s new Group CEO, effective immediately.

Shields illustrious career has been closely tied to UK Government since 2012, when she was recruited by then-Prime Minister David Cameron to lead the Tech City initiative. She presided as Chair and CEO of the initiative from 2013 to 2015, and was appointed the Prime Minister’s Adviser on the Digital Economy in 2014 until 2015, when she was appointed to the role of Minister for Internet Safety and Security, and reappointed to the position in 2016 under Theresa May. She stepped down from this role ahead of the 2017 general election, but has continued to serve the government in a number of positions.

Prior to this period, Shields has held a number of influential roles in the tech industry, including Managing Director for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa where she helped guide the development of AdSense as well as held responsibility for acquisition of content and partnerships; Bebo, where she was CEO until she steered the company’s $850 million acquisition by AOL; and Facebook, as Vice President and Managing Director of Europe, Middle East and African operations.

Shields noted that she will be temporarily giving up her peerage in the House of Lords to take on her new role.

“Joanna is a business builder with a strong leadership track record in growing companies with state-of-the-art, disruptive technology at their heart,” remarked Ken Mulvany, Founder and Chairman of BenevolentAI. “Joanna’s appointment demonstrates the trajectory at which we intend to grow BenevolentAI and points to the impact that we want to make as a company in applying artificial intelligence to accelerate scientific innovation.”

On her appointment, Shields commented: “After five years in public service I wanted to return to building a business again, but it had to be a business with a mission of consequence.  I can’t think of a more important endeavour than improving the quality of people’s lives ​and health ​through the kind of innovations we are exploring at BenevolentAI.  The company is creating technology that accelerates the ​discovery and development of breakthrough therapies at an unprecedented scale.  But this bold journey isn’t ours alone.  These developments will positively impact the lives of many millions of people.”

Matt Fellows

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