Dreams are valid. And Rosalind Brewer “Roz” is living the dream.
She will be the next CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance. And this consequently makes her the only black woman to be the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
Brewer will take the reins of the Fortune 500 company on March 15th. She will be the first woman and first African American to run the company.
Brewer will also join the board of directors and is sure to inject a new way of thinking that could help propel the company to further success.
Ms. Brewer, 58 years old, will succeed Stefano Pessina, 79—who happens to be an Italian-born billionaire.
Pessina will then become the executive chairman of the Deerfield-based retail pharmacy chain.
In the six years since he became the CEO, he has grown the company into a healthcare powerhouse and a global pharmacy. Last July, he announced that he wanted to step down from the position since he felt that the time was right for a successor and a fresh voice.
Brewer’s appointment isn’t the only history-changing one in Walgreens Boots Alliance. In October 2020, former White House senior advisor Valerie Jarrett was appointed to the board of directors. This makes her the pharmacy’s fourth female director.
Until now, Brewer has been a member of the Starbucks board, where she has also held the position of Chief Operating Officer.
Before Starbucks, she was the CEO and president of Sam’s Club, a division of Walmart. Here, she started making history by becoming the first African American and woman to take charge of a Walmart division.
Prior to this, Brewer worked at Kimberly-Clark Corp., where she started out as a scientist.
A Bright Future
Walgreens Boots Alliance is one of the major companies in the country. In these companies, nonwhites hold only 16% of executive-level positions. Women, meanwhile, hold just a quarter of executive roles.
There’s only one other Black woman who has worked as the CEO of a Fortune 500 company before Ms Brewer: Ursula Burns. She ran Xerox until 2016 when she stepped down.
In 2019, Mary Winston came close. As a board member of Bed Bath & Beyond, she was named the interim CEO. She held the position for about six months before they appointed a new CEO.
With Brewer’s appointment, we can hope that more Fortune 500 companies will hire women of color to lead them.
About Walgreens Boots Alliance
The pharmacy has more than 21,000 stores and over 450,000 employees. Despite being one of the nation’s major companies, it hasn’t been doing well lately. In the past five years, its shares have lost 38 percent.
Brewer’s brief involves reversing this negative trajectory and turning the company’s fortunes around.
The stores have faced increased pressure because of the financial blows that have come from the Coronavirus pandemic. Shoppers have reduced the number of times they visit the stores. Health services have also lowered the demand for prescriptions by postponing their routine treatments.
Time For Change
On Tuesday, Starbucks said that Brewer was leaving them to join a then-unannounced listed company. Then WBA released a statement that announced Brewer as the new CEO.
The news has had a positive reception. In fact, after the announcement, WBA’s shares went up by 8.4 percent during the after-hours trading.
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Brewer will have to take a step back from her role at Amazon as a board member. However, it’s understandable because she has a big task ahead.
Brewer is currently ranked as 27th on Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. With her appointment, her rank is sure to rise.
All the best to her, and here’s to more women of color getting roles that befit their talent, experience, determination, and hard work!