Folwell, a member of the media practice at consultancy McKinsey, will report to GMG's chief executive, Carolyn McCall. He will lead strategy across the four divisions of GMG: Guardian News & Media, GMG Regional Media, GMG Radio and Trader Media Group.
His appointment comes as GMG tries to evolve beyond its traditional print products. The Guardian has recently restructured its newspaper commercial department to place a greater emphasis on digital revenues. This week, GMG announced that it is rebranding the SAGA radio stations it acquired in December as Smooth Radio.
McCall said: "This is an important addition to the GMG team as we move through a period of profound change, marked by significant challenges and opportunities for the group."