I’m Kevin Larsen, financial systems manager at Walgreens, and since joining the company in 2000, I’ve worked in many departments ranging from Accounting to Enterprise Financial Services. I was also part of the company when Walgreens Boots Alliance was formed in 2014. Seeing the transformation of Walgreens into WBA and getting to meet my UK-based colleagues in person has been fantastic.
Typically, my day starts off with a coffee at 7 a.m. If you’ve ever worked in a role that involves financial accounting systems, you’ll know that the first thing to do is review emails and establish which fire needs to be extinguished first. It’s never a dull moment!
That’s where my team comes in. We support the accounting systems that analyze Walgreens’ financial results to allow leadership, along with their finance partners, to make business decisions that drive shareholder value via the accounting close process every month. Just about every accounting process at Walgreens flows in and out of our department, from general inquiries for financial data to entering information into system-to-system interfaces. We get a lot of challenges sent our way, and together there’s not a problem we haven’t been able to solve. Most people don’t realize that Accounting is truly a customer-service-based function.
We also know how to have a lot of fun as a team, and our camaraderie is one of the best things about working together.
Alongside my day job, I am part of W-Vets, Walgreens’ business resource group for team member veterans and veteran supporters. I joined many years ago when I received a solicitation to attend a veterans job fair in Chicago and represent Walgreens. I remember what it was like when I transitioned from military to civilian life, so being able to help others through this was a real draw for me.
While working for Walgreens and serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, I was called to active duty for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2005 and had to leave my family for two years to serve as a Drill Sergeant at the Infantry Training Brigade in Fort Benning, Georgia. Walgreens supported me and my family the entire time I was gone and upon my return. I might not have been overseas, but I was still a thousand miles away from my family. I retired from military service in 2007 when I returned from my deployment.
My children were very young when I was deployed in the Reserves. When I returned, it took a long time to get reacquainted with my family, including learning the simple things like what toys my children liked to play with or what they liked to eat or wear. I remember my wife saying, half-jokingly, that I was in the way because they were used to functioning without me around.
Since returning, I’ve always made an effort to be at my kids’ school concerts, dance recitals and sporting events—they really only happen once in a lifetime. We also love a family game night, everything from cards to board games. Right now, we’re a player down with my son away at college. He’s majoring in jazz studies. As a drummer myself, I’m more of a heavy metal fan.
While serving on active duty, I hurt my back and required surgery. After many years of struggling with the residual pain, I decided to see what the onsite fitness center at the WBA headquarters in Deerfield, Illinois, had to offer. The team there was fantastic—they helped me get back on my feet with a fitness routine that strengthened everything. With their guidance, I was able to slowly build up my physical endurance over many years of visits. I’ve missed seeing them through the pandemic.
During this time, my family and I have had a lot more meals at home and done a lot less driving. Most of all, we miss our annual trip to “something Disney,” as we are members of the Disney Vacation Club.
What have I learned from 21 years at Walgreens? Be ready to adapt to change. In my time here, I have helped implement three general ledger systems. Most people working at a company might be lucky to have the experience to implement one, and the tenure I’ve been able to have at Walgreens while they supported my deployment means I’ve been able to do far more. If there’s one thing that has carried through from my military career, it’s that I live by one simple phrase … DRIVE ON!