Formerly Dow's director of public affairs for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Ashanin described her new role as 'bridging' the five global divisions that fall under Novartis Consumer Health: infant and baby products, animal health, medical nutrition, OTC medications and eye-care arm CIBA Vision.
Well-known products in her remit include smoking-cessation brand Nicotinell, pain-relief gel Voltaren and O2Optix contact lenses from CIBA Vision.
But she described the job as 'more corporate comms than product comms' and said 'internal comms, change comms and issues comms' were three main challenges.
She said she wanted to 'drive greater consumer orientation' within the five units to help the firm move from an 'R&D mindset to a consumer mindset'.
Ashanin's predecessor Marie-Francoise Rutimeyer has moved to become head of global comms for the firm's medical nutrition business.
Ashanin, an American, left Dow at the end of last year; she joined the firm almost 20 years ago in the US but has spent the past 16 years in various Switzerland-based jobs.
She reports to Novartis Consumer Health CEO Paul Choffat and, on pan-company issues, to Novartis head of global comms Bob Pearson.
Novartis employs approximately 81,000 staff globally, of whom more than a quarter work in its consumer health operations.
The two other divisions with Novartis are its core pharmaceuticals business and Sandoz, its generics arm. Kurt Leidner remains global head of comms for Sandoz.