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Delivering Digital

Walgreens Hires New Team of Execs to Shore Up $1B Digital Transformation

Chief digital officer recruited from Disney among of a slate of new executive hires recruited to fast-track Walgreens' digital efforts

Pharmacy retailer Walgreens Boots Alliance announced today that it’s tasking a new lineup of global executives with accelerating its three-year, $1 billion digital transformation push.

The company says that in the past several months it recruited five key executives to guide the business as it executes on digital strategies, including a new global chief accounting officer, chief marketing officer, chief commercial officer, and chief supply chain officer. Top billing goes to the firm’s new global chief digital officer, though. Recruited from Walt Disney Company, Gunjan Bhow brings to the position years of experience developing and running digital product lines and businesses. Prior to Disney, he also held roles at Amazon, Microsoft, and Plantronics.

According to Walgreens, Bhow will focus on six critical areas of the company’s digital efforts: data, artificial intelligence, commerce, digital marketing, internet of things (IoT), and omnichannel.

The freshening of Walgreens digital leadership comes in the wake of a brutal quarter for the company, one which company CEO Stefano Pessina named as the most difficult since Walgreens and Alliance Boots merged in 2014. However, in an earnings call earlier this month Pessina and his executive team said they were confident that the $1 billion in investments earmarked over the next three years for transformative efforts would not only help the company slash annual IT cash spend by $500 million in the coming years, but also improve customer experience.

Pessina hinted at that time about coming leadership changes.

“We are acting quickly to address select areas of operational weakness with a number of senior appointments, choosing new talent with new ideas and new approaches to drive more rapid change in a number of areas of our business,” he told investors.

The company reports that it will spend 40% of its digital transformation investment on internal digitalization and another 60% on building out partnerships. The company is particularly interested in creating more flexible working models with health care providers and consumers, likely driven by pressure from industry moves like the CVS-Aetna merger that are disrupting the business. Walgreens is leaning on a big partnership with Microsoft to help the pharmacy company create a connected ecosystem between providers, customer devices, and the company’s stores to provide a better end-to-end experience.

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