Roz Brewer says she's excited to innovate in the healthcare industry at Walgreens, especially as the company helps combat the coronavirus pandemic.
US drugstore giant Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has named Starbucks executive Roz Brewer as its new CEO, an appointment that US media said would make her the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company.
"Brewer brings to WBA a proven track record of leadership and operational expertise at multi-national corporations," WBA said in a statement, adding outgoing CEO Stefano Pessina would become executive chairman of the board.
We are excited to announce the appointment of Rosalind (Roz) Brewer as Chief Executive Officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance, and Stefano Pessina as Executive Chairman of the Board, Walgreens Boots Alliance. Learn more here: https://t.co/zchvL2yzrc pic.twitter.com/xxUjfUZTbf— Walgreens Boots Alliance (@WBA_Global) January 27, 2021
Pessina praised Brewer’s expertise in operations, customer relations, talent development and digital innovation.
“She is a distinguished and experienced executive who has led organisations globally through periods of changing consumer behavior by applying innovation that elevates customer experiences,” Pessina said.
At Starbucks, Brewer revamped stores, taking out clutter and cutting down on administrative work so employees could focus on customers and speed up service. She helped grow Starbucks’ rewards programme and pushed for more diversity in its ranks.
Congratulations to my corporate sister Roz Brewer on being named the new CEO of @WBA_Global. She is soon-to-be the only Black woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Another glass ceiling shattered today! pic.twitter.com/fUGwNR1sUB— Mellody Hobson (@MellodyHobson) January 27, 2021
Prior to joining Starbucks, Brewer served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club, the members-only warehouse channel of Walmart Inc. She also grew membership and improved merchandise there.
Before that, Brewer was with Kimberly-Clark Corp. for 22 years.
Brewer, who has a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Spelman College, started at Kimberly-Clark as a scientist and ultimately served as president of the Global Nonwovens Sector.
Brewer said she's excited to innovate in the healthcare industry at Walgreens, especially as the company helps combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“I step into this role with great optimism for the future of WBA,” Brewer said in a statement.
One of the most powerful women in business
Based in Deerfield, Illinois, Walgreens says it employs more than 450,000 people and has more than 21,000 stores globally.
Ursula Burns was the first Black woman to run a Fortune 500 company when she became CEO of Xerox in 2009. But she lost that role in 2016 when Xerox split into two companies.
There are only a handful of other Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, including Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison.
The Wall Street Journal said there are just four Black male CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, a ranking of America's largest 500 companies.
"Before her time at Starbucks, Brewer worked at Sam's Club from 2012 to 2017," WBA said.
"She made history by becoming the first woman and first African American to lead a Walmart division. She is currently ranked #27 on Fortune's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business."