LONDON — Alex Cole, Bupa’s chief sustainability and corporate Affairs officer, is leaving the healthcare company at the end of June after seven years to pursue a new leadership challenge.

Cole is succeeded by Rupert Gowrley, who also joined Bupa in 2014 and steps up from his current role as group external relations director to lead global corporate affairs.

Gowrley will be responsible for corporate affairs and brand, reporting to Bupa Group CEO, Iñaki Ereño, who took on the role in January this year. Cole’s accountabilities for ESG and sustainability pass to Nigel Sullivan, the firm’s chief sustainability and people officer.

Cole was previously corporate affairs director at J Sainsbury and Cadbury, and was also MD of corporate at Freuds. She will continue as chair of the Bupa Foundation in the UK and said: “I’ve had a fantastic time over the past seven years, leading our customer transformation, as well as steering our reputation through various crises – not least the pandemic.

“With Iñaki now well set up as the new CEO, I’m ready for a new and broader leadership challenge. I’m so pleased to be passing on Bupa’s brand and corporate affairs baton to Rupert. I know he shares my passion for – and commitment to – the value of reputation and trust.”

Gowrley, who had previously worked at Engine MHP, said: “It’s a huge privilege to lead corporate affairs across Bupa at such a pivotal time in healthcare. We have a new ambition to be the world’s most customer-centric healthcare company, a refreshed purpose to reflect the link between planet health and human health and the responsibilities that businesses have. Alex has built a great global team and we are at the very start of implementing Iñaki’s new strategy, so it’s an exciting moment for us all in Bupa’s history.”

Ereño said Cole’s reputation management expertise “has been instrumental on a wide range of matters, especially through the pandemic”. He said: “Alex led the customer transformation installing the Net Promoter System across Bupa and increased our focus on mental health and wellbeing. She strengthened our approach to corporate responsibility and sustainability, particularly our community impact so I am delighted that she will continue as chair of the Bupa UK Foundation. She’s done a super job and been a great colleague and friend, always delivering with energy and positivity. We thank her for everything and wish her all the very best for the future.”

Of Gowrley’s promotion, he added: “Rupert’s a very trusted and committed colleague, passionate about the value of reputation, brand strength and relevance, and purpose-led communications.”