People & Perspectives

Meet Héctor Pérez, Walgreens director of pharmacy and retail operations

This pharmacist turned operations leader shares his career journey and celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S. with some Puerto Rican flair.

An image of Héctor Pérez, Walgreens director of pharmacy and retail operations
Hector

My name is Héctor Pérez, and I am the Walgreens director of pharmacy and retail operations (DPR) for the Los Angeles area. I’m proud to say that I’m a Latino professional, and one of many individuals who want to make a difference in this world. I also love to go dancing (especially salsa), sing karaoke (I’ve been told I’m pretty good at it!) and have a passion for travel. 

I started my career with Walgreens in Puerto Rico 21 years ago as a pharmacy student, and have grown up at Walgreens through different roles including staff pharmacist, pharmacy manager, district pharmacy supervisor and healthcare supervisor before taking on my current role as a DPR. I’m very thankful to my Puerto Rico Walgreens family for all their care and support during each of my career stages. 

As a minority, I have experienced many challenges throughout my life and have felt at times that I’ve had to work twice as hard to get where I wanted to be. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and lived there until November 2016 when I was promoted to a DPR in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I was very grateful for this opportunity, but moving to the mainland U.S. also came with the challenges of adapting to a new city and culture and starting a new social network. The most difficult challenge was the language barrier. Despite feeling frustrated sometimes, having the support of a company that promotes diversity and inclusion has allowed me to thrive. Part of that support comes from being a proud member of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Latino Professionals employee group. When I look back on my life, I realize moments that presented themselves as challenges were really opportunities to become a stronger and better version of myself. 

As a result of my work in Albuquerque, I was offered a second assignment as a DPR in February 2019: the opportunity to lead the LA area. I have the privilege to lead a high-profile market for the company along with a wonderful, supportive and caring team at all levels.

One of the most important things I do is facilitate and foster a culture in which all Walgreens locations in my area form a cohesive team to support overall business growth and company initiatives. My job is everything to me, to the point that I consider my team part of my family. In fact, what energizes me every day is the true connection with people at all levels. A major satisfaction is being able to see others succeed personally and professionally. True leaders stand up for their people! The key to success as a leader relies on a high sense of empathy — how you genuinely care about others and how you inspire them to do their best.

On a typical workday, I wake up around 6 a.m. The first thing I do is to grab a cup of coffee with hazelnut cream and two Splendas along with a very light breakfast (usually toast with peanut butter). Then I start my day by reviewing my work email and calendar (usually planned out 90 to 120 days in advance). Also, I turn my TV on to listen to daily news. 

As a result of COVID-19, my routine has changed a bit because I have more flexibility to work from home in addition to visiting stores. My area is composed of eight districts with 104 stores. I visit one district per week and spend a week at the office once a month. When I make store visits, I follow the COVID-19 guidelines we have in place to keep me and my team safe. 

Hector with his family

As people may know, traffic is very challenging in LA, but I use that time to connect with family and best friends almost on a daily basis. My closest family is my abuela (like my second mom), sister and two nephews (like sons to me). I talk to my grandma — who lives in Puerto Rico — every day. It’s funny that I’m more connected to her now, despite the distance. 

After my workday is done, I go to the gym around 6 or 7 p.m. at least four times a week. For me, working out is therapeutic, not only from a physical standpoint but also for my mental health. This routine helps me to decompress and disconnect from work and reenergize myself for the next day. I also listen to my favorite music while working out — mostly salsa and pop/balada. 

Héctor preparing to whip up one of his delicious post-work dinners.

I consider myself a good cook. I cook almost every day after my gym workout. I have to say that I’ve polished my culinary skills as we’ve lived through this pandemic. 

After eating dinner around 7:30-8 p.m., I review the latest emails from work and my priority list for the next few days. I also select the clothes I’m going to wear the next day so that I have more time when getting ready in the morning. 

Before going to bed, I watch the news. If I still have some energy, I will watch a TV series or read a book. I usually go to bed around 11 p.m. I always try to get at least seven hours of sleep because for me, sleep is key to being fully focused and productive the next day. 

My vision for life is to be a happy person despite any problems I might encounter. Growing up, I learned that life is not always easy. My parents died when I was 14 years old. I had to work and study as hard as I could to sustain myself and provide for my younger sister who is seven years younger than me. My experiences have helped me appreciate every single accomplishment that I have earned.

In closing, I just want to say Happy Hispanic Heritage Month — give me a WEPA! (This is the way we celebrate in Puerto Rico.)

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