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01/27/2021

Walgreens taps Starbucks’ Roz Brewer as CEO

Marianne Wilson
Editor-in-Chief
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Roz Brewer

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. has made history with the appointment of its new chief executive officer.

The company named Roz Brewer, COO of Starbucks Corp., as CEO, effective March 15. When she takes the reins, Brewer will be the only Black female to head up a Fortune 500 company, and only the second Black woman CEO ever in the history of the Fortune 500.   At Walgreens, she succeeds Stefano Pessina, who announced in July his intent to step down once a new CEO was found. He will transition to the role of executive chairman.

Brewer’s appointment means that the nation’s three leading drug store chains will soon all be headed up by women. In November, CVS Health Corp. named Karen Lynch as CEO, effective Feb.1, 2021.  And in August 2019, Rite Aid named Heyward Donigan as CEO.

Brewer joined Starbucks’ board in 2017 and was named chief operating officer later that same year. Brewer, who also served as group president, has been instrumental in helping the company accelerate its growth strategy, expand its global reach and drive value for all of Starbucks’ diverse stakeholders, WBA stated.

Prior to joining Starbucks, Brewer worked at Sam’s Club (from 2012 to 2017) where she was the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division. She joined Walmart in 2006 as regional VP and later became president of Walmart East, where her P&L responsibility exceeded $100 billion. 

Prior to Walmart, Brewer was with Kimberly-Clark Corp. for 22 years, starting as a scientist and ultimately serving as president of the Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004.

“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,” said Pessina. “We are excited to have found that person in Roz. 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.”

The Executive Leadership Council, an independent non-profit  membership organization committed to increasing the number of global Black executives in C-cuites,  issued a statement congratulating Brewer on her new appointment and commending Walgreens' decision in selecting a Black woman as its new leader.  

We applaud the board of directors of Walgreens for making this inspired and historic appointment," said Crystal E. Ashby, interim president and CEO of The ELC. "Roz's proven leadership at some of the world's most innovative, impactful, and high-performing corporations has over prepared and more than qualifies her for the position."

In a statement, Brewer said the following:

“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.”