Walgreens names Rosalind Brewer as CEO

This career power move will make Brewer the only Black woman to run a Fortune 500 company

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Business executive Rosalind Brewer has been named the new CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

The news was revealed in a press release issued on Tuesday by the company. Her appointment is effective on March 15, 2021, and the current CEO Stefano Pessina will transition to the role of Executive Chairman of the Board. As CEO, Brewer will also join the WBA Board of Directors.

BLUE Scholarship Gala To Benefit Spelman College - Inside
NEW YORK – OCTOBER 04: Honoree Rosalind Brewer speaks during the BLUE Scholarship Gala to benefit Spelman College at The Plaza Hotel on October 4, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

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theGrio reported back in 2017, Brewer was named chief operating officer and president of Starbucks, which is her current role until she takes over at Walgreens in March 2021. Before the coffee company, she gained experience as the former president and CEO of Sam’s Club, where she worked from 2012 to 2017.

According to the release, the Spelman graduate is currently ranked #27 on Fortune’s 50 “Most Powerful Women in Business.”

“The Board conducted an extensive search to identify an exceptional leader who will build on WBA’s track record of success and take advantage of the many growth opportunities in many markets across the company. We are excited to have found that person in Roz,” said Pessina in the memo.

“She is a distinguished and experienced executive who has led organizations globally through periods of changing consumer behavior by applying innovation that elevates customer experiences – ultimately driving significant and sustainable growth and value creation. Her relentless focus on the customer, talent development, operational rigor, and strong expertise in digital and technological transformation are exactly what WBA needs as the company enters its next chapter. I look forward to working with Roz, and to continuing to partner with Jim and the entire Board and management team to take our company forward.”

“We are excited to announce the appointment of Rosalind (Roz) Brewer as Chief Executive Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance,” the company shared in an Instagram post also revealing Pessina as Executive Chairman of the Board.

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According to the New York Times, the move will make Brewer the only Black woman currently running a Fortune 500 company. There have been 18 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies since 1999, and only two have been women. Ursula Burns, who worked with Xerox from 2009 to 2016, and Mary Winston, who worked at Bed Bath & Beyond as interim chief in 2019.

Brewer shared gratitude for the opportunity in a statement, saying, “WBA is a world-class and trusted organization whose purpose I deeply admire.”

She continued, “the healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and I am excited to work alongside the entire WBA team as we deliver further innovation and positively impact the lives of millions of people around the world every day. This is especially true today as the company plays a crucial role in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. I step into this role with great optimism for the future of WBA, a shared responsibility to serve our customers, patients, and communities, and a commitment to drive long-term sustainable value for shareholders.”

Bloomberg reported that Brewer’s career change means women will lead the three largest U.S. pharmacy chains for the first time. Karen Lynch will head CVS next month, while Heyward R. Donigan has led Rite Aid since 2019.

“That’s something that always surprised me: That drug retail has been run by men when primarily their customer base is female,” said Lisa Gill, a health-care analyst to Bloomberg.

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