Walgreens Boots Alliance Names New CEO

Tim Binder
Executive Editor
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Rosalind Brewer

Starbucks’ Brewer to succeed Pessina, who will become chairman of WBA board

Rosalind (Roz) Brewer will take over as chief executive officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance on March 15, becoming the only Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company.

The Deerfield, IL-based global company and parent of 9,000-plus-store U.S. drug chain Walgreens said Brewer will replace the outgoing Stefano Pessina, who will transition to the role of executive chairman of the WBA board of directors.

In the Jan. 26 news announcement, Pessina said it was Brewer’s leadership experience that won her the job. “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,” said Pessina, who’s been ceo since July 2015. “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.”

Brewer had been Starbucks Corp.’s chief operating officer, group president, and was a member of the company’s board of directors. She brings a track record of leadership and operational expertise at multinational corporations, with deep experience in strategic development, marketing, digital transformation and loyalty, innovation and technology, supply chain and store development, according to the media release. 

Prior to joining Starbucks, Brewer served as president and ceo of Sam’s Club, Walmart's members-only warehouse channel. Brewer worked at Sam’s Club from 2012-2017. She was the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division. She joined Walmart in 2006 as regional vice president and later became president of Walmart East. Prior to Walmart, she was with Kimberly-Clark for 22 years.

“WBA is a world-class and trusted organization whose purpose I deeply admire,” Brewer said. “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 combating 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.”

Pessina will replace James Skinner as executive chairman of WBA. Skinner will remain on the board as a non-executive director, according to the release, to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.

As far as female chief executives go, Brewer will be in good company. Karen S. Lynch is set to become president and ceo of CVS Health on Feb. 1.