Walgreens Names Ex-Starbucks COO as CEO, Only Black Woman Leading a Fortune 500 Company

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Shutterstock (10470731a)Rosalind Brewer seen on day two of Summit LA19 in Downtown Los Angeles, in Los AngelesSUMMIT LA19, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Nov 2019.
Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Shutterstock / Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Walgreens Boots Alliance (Nasdaq: WBA) announced yesterday the appointment of former Starbucks Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, effective March 15, 2021.

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While at Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX), Brewer was also Group President and member of the Board of Directors, according to a company announcement. In her new role, Brewer will also join the board of directors and will replace Stefano Pessina, who will become executive chairman of the Board.

The New York Times notes that this position will make her the only Black woman to currently run a Fortune 500 company, adding that there have been only 18 Black chief executives of Fortune 500 companies since 1999. “Two have been women: Ursula Burns, who led Xerox from 2009 to 2016, and Mary Winston, who led Bed Bath & Beyond as interim chief in 2019, “The New York Times notes.

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Prior to joining Starbucks, Brewer served as President and CEO of Sam’s Club, the members-only warehouse channel of Walmart. Previous roles include director of Amazon, Lockheed Martin and Molson Coors Brewing Company. She also chairs the board of trustees at Spelman College. According to the WBA announcement.

“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,” Pessina said in a statement. “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.”

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Following the merger between Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014, Pessina had been CEO for the combined companies.

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“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,” Brewer said in the statement. “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.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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