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Walgreens Boots Alliance’s Rosalind Brewer steps down as CEO

Ginger Graham, current lead independent director, has been appointed interim CEO.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

Walgreens Boots Alliance today announced that the board of directors and Rosalind Brewer have mutually agreed that Brewer will step down as the company’s CEO and as a member of the board, as of Aug. 31, 2023. The board has appointed Ginger Graham, current lead independent director of WBA, as the company’s interim CEO. Brewer has agreed to continue to advise WBA while the company conducts a search for a permanent CEO.

Ginger Graham has been named interim CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance.

Stefano Pessina, executive chairman of WBA, said, “On behalf of the entire board, I would like to thank Roz for her contributions to WBA. Roz navigated the company through the global pandemic, overseeing the critical rollout of vaccines in Walgreens pharmacies and to high-risk populations across the country. She furthered our consumer facing capabilities while supporting the culture of community and team-member engagement in difficult times. We appreciate her hard work and commitment to the company during this period of unprecedented change.”

[Read more: Rina Shah assumes new role at Walgreens]

Brewer said, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Walgreens Boots Alliance and to work alongside such talented and dedicated colleagues. I am proud of what we accomplished together. We’ve improved the lives of our employees, expanded healthcare services for our customers and enhanced our ability to deliver on our purpose of ‘more joyful lives through better health.’ Over the past several years, we have recruited a world class team to WBA, including the first-ever Chief Customer Officer and the first-ever President of U.S. Healthcare, and invested deeply in the improvement of the Company’s overall culture. I am confident that WBA is on track to be a leading consumer-centric healthcare company, serving thousands of communities across the country, especially those that need access to healthcare the most. I look forward to watching the Company continue its transformation to deliver localized health care.”

Brewer was named CEO of WBA in March 2021, just as COVID-19 vaccines were becoming available to the American people. She built and led a team to stand up the technology for a vaccine scheduling system, created a safe operating model for store labor, and developed a plan to drive vaccine equity. To date, WBA has delivered over 70 million vaccine shots. In October 2021, Brewer and her team introduced a significant strategic pivot towards the growth of WBA into health care, including three strategic acquisitions to expand and accelerate WBA’s consumer-centric healthcare offerings. During her tenure the company also achieved considerable cost savings through its transformational cost management program.

The board’s process to identify a new CEO is underway with the support of a leading global executive search firm.

[Read more: CVS Pharmacy, Walgreens to acquire prescription files from SEG's pharmacies]

“Ginger is the ideal person to serve as interim CEO, given her leadership experience across multiple segments of the healthcare industry, deep knowledge of WBA, and strong operational skills,” said Pessina. “Our Board and leadership team will intensify our focus on creating value for our customers and our shareholders while we advance the search for a successor with deep healthcare experience to lead in today’s dynamic environment.”

Graham said, “By capitalizing fully on the strength of WBA’s strong mission, values, and brand we have an enormous opportunity to play an even more valued role in local healthcare delivery. My focus will be on our people and our operations, working together to drive shareholder value creation and ensuring a smooth transition as soon as we identify the next CEO for the future.”

For nearly three decades, Graham held leadership positions across the healthcare industry. She has served on the WBA Board of Directors since 2010, and in October 2022, was named the WBA Board Lead Independent Director. From 2003 to 2007, she was president and CEO of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on first-in-class medicines for people with diabetes. Prior to that, she was Group Chairman, Office of the President for Guidant Corporation, a global leader in cardiology medical technology. Graham was on faculty at Harvard Business School and started her career at Eli Lilly and Company. She has served on the Boards of multiple healthcare companies and advised numerous companies and CEOs on building healthcare businesses. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and holds an MBA from Harvard University.

The company said it expects full-year 2023 adjusted EPS to be at or near the low end of its previously stated range. The company will discuss 2024 guidance at its next regularly scheduled quarterly earnings call.

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