People & Perspectives

5 things you need to know from Ignite Fall 2022

Walgreens Boots Alliance U.S. team members gathered for a festive “family meeting,” where leaders shared news and updates on direction for the next year.

By Steve Rausch
Roz Brewer at Ignite fall 2022
Roz Brewer at Ignite fall 2022
Well, the weather outside was frightful, but the mood inside was so delightful as WBA CEO Roz Brewer took the stage under a flurry of faux snowflakes to kick off Ignite in Chicago on Nov. 17.

In front of a full room, and several thousand more participating virtually, Brewer kicked off our latest “family meeting,” which presented an opportunity to be together and reflect on a year she called “fantastic and tough all at the same time, but ultimately rewarding.”

During the midst of Team Member Appreciation Week, Brewer discussed investments in team member wellbeing and highlighted the personal and professional dreams of several Walgreens team members. She continued with a reflection on the ongoing transformation within the company, with a focus on the core retail pharmacy business that has outperformed expectations and an emphasis on the growth engine that is the U.S. Healthcare segment.

“We’ve been depended upon in this last year, and our brand is showing it,” she said.

Brewer was joined on stage by several senior leaders to talk about ongoing initiatives across the company. Here are five key takeaways from the event:

1. Listening to our store team members’ ideas, enhancing collaboration across the company and taking action will better serve both team members and customers. Holly May, WBA EVP and global chief human resources officer, and Lisa Badgley, Walgreens SVP of operations, discussed the importance of the two-way communication of ideas, collaborating to find solutions in support of the field, then acting to put those solutions into practice to ultimately drive better outcomes.

“Those of us in the support center truly want feedback and ideas from the store teams and field leaders because they’re the closest to the customer,” said Badgley. “When we come together, we drive conversations and move more quickly, and it helps us make decisions with better results.”

May credited that improved feedback loop for contributing to recent field-driven changes such as the elimination of task-based metrics for pharmacists, the launch of the W Connect app to improve team member communication and engagement, and the introduction of Be Well Connected to help enhance team member mental health and wellbeing. She closed her presentation with the promise that “we’ll keep listening, so keep getting us your ideas and we’re going to collaborate, respond and act.

2. Walgreens is a high-touch care company charged with changing and improving customer and patient experiences, so we must continue to invest in our team members. Millions of patients and customers rely on Walgreens every day for an extremely important reason: to improve their health and lives, said Lee Cooper, WBA EVP and president, Pharmacy, who has been talking extensively with patients and team members alike during the month and a half in his new role. That underscores how important our people are, he said, and means we have to invest in every one of the 245,000-plus Walgreens team members who make that patient and customer connection possible.

“We want to make this truly the best place for you to work, to build your career and to fulfill your dreams,” Cooper said. To do that, Walgreens will focus on three areas: Training and development, rewarding and recognizing talent in the organization, and investing in the technology, tools and resources that allow all team members to be efficient, productive and successful.

3. The opportunity exists right now to bring the best of our retail expertise to healthcare. The current healthcare system in the U.S. fails to deliver the best experience for patients, said John Driscoll, WBA EVP and president, U.S. Healthcare, as he reflected on his first 30 days with the company. Patients need more ways to access the healthcare system, so convenient local access to clinicians is critical.

Walgreens is uniquely positioned to fundamentally change the healthcare industry by combining our expertise in retail and pharmacy with best-in-class assets like VillageMD, CareCentrix and Shields to deliver the high-impact, hybrid solutions the healthcare system needs. All of this makes who we are and where we are even more essential for patients and their families and earns us the right to win. That’s why we’ll continue to build, invest and collaborate across all our areas of expertise.

4. Developing a clear understanding of our customers’ journey is the next critical step in staying customer- and patient-obsessed. Tracey Brown, president of Walgreens retail and chief customer officer, outlined the need to take the next step to execute the company’s operational strategy of being the most convenient health and wellness destination that has more trusted services and offerings across the entire healthcare ecosystem. At the core of that has been data-driven, outside-in research to develop a deep understanding of who our customers are, their wants, their needs, their attitudes, their behaviors and their lifestyles, so we understand what the universal customer journey is.

“There are moments in the customer journey that we call friction points, when a negative emotion is created,” said Brown. “And then there are moments of truth, which can have a disproportionate impact on that customer's journey. If we get them wrong, we lose. Intimately understanding the customer journey will allow us to make different choices and decisions to improve their experience.”

5. ‘The Art of the Possible’ will drive Walgreens store designs of the future. Min Cho, Walgreens new chief format concepts and design officer, says he is approaching a store of the future concept that is focused on where digital meets physical, to allow Walgreens to reach its aspiration to be the most convenient health and wellness destination.

Cho defines “The Art of the Possible” as imagining a store that is designed with the team member in mind, providing digital and physical tools that can make jobs more efficient so team members can deliver the service they want to, and exceed their own expectations and those of our customers.

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