Walgreens said Tuesday it has chosen Starbucks executive Roz Brewer as its new CEO, which will make her the only black woman to run a Fortune 500 company.
Starbucks announced Tuesday that Brewer was leaving after just over three years as chief operating officer. Walgreens later confirmed that Brewer will take over as CEO on March 15.
Brewer succeeds Stefano Pessina, who served as CEO for six years following the merger between Walgreens and Alliance Boots in 2014. Pessina will become executive chairman of the board of directors of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc ..
Pessina praised Brewer’s expertise in operations, customer relations, talent development and digital innovation.
“She is a distinguished and experienced leader who has led organizations around the world through periods of consumer behavior change by applying innovations that improve the customer experience,” said Pessina.
At Starbucks, Brewer revamped stores, eliminating clutter and reducing administrative work so employees can focus on customers and speed up service. She helped develop Starbucks’ rewards program and lobbied for more diversity in its ranks.
Prior to joining Starbucks, Brewer served as President and CEO of Sam’s Club, the member-only warehouse channel of Walmart Inc. She also increased membership and improved merchandise.
Prior to 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 eventually served as president of the global nonwovens industry.
Brewer said she was excited to innovate in the healthcare industry at Walgreens, especially as the company was helping to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
“I step into this role with great optimism for the future of WBA,” Brewer said in a statement.
Headquartered in Deerfield, Ill., Walgreens says it employs more than 450,000 people and has more than 21,000 stores worldwide.
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 CEO Marvin Ellison.