Roz Brewer is an American businesswoman who currently serves as the COO of Starbucks. She’s previously served as the President and CEO of Sam’s Club. In January 2021, it was announced that she would be taking the helm at Walgreens Boots Alliance. When she moves into the role, she’ll become the only current Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and only the third in history. Find out more as we take a look at ten things you didn’t know about Roz Brewer.
1. She hails from Detroit
Brewer was born in 1962 in Detroit as the youngest of five children. Her parents worked on the assembly line at General Motors. After graduating from Cass Technical High School, she earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Spelman College. She’s also a graduate of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business/Stanford Law School and the advanced management program at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. According to Forbes, Brewer is part of the first generation in her family to attend college.
2. She joined Walmart in 2006
Brewer began her career as a scientist at Kimberly-Clark Corporation. After working her way through the ranks, she ended her 22-year career at the company after achieving the position of vice president of the Global Nonwovens Sector in 2004. In 2006, Brewer joined Walmart in the role of regional vice president over operations in Georgia. After that, she moved to the position of division president of Walmart’s Southeast market, before becoming president of Walmart East. In 2012, she was appointed the President and CEO of Sam’s Club, becoming the first Black woman in history to head up a Walmart division.
3. She inspired change at Starbucks
In February 2017, Brewer was appointed to the Starbucks Board of Directors. In September, she was named as the company’s new COO, a position that made her the second-highest-ranking executive at Starbucks. Shortly after joining the company, Starbucks entered one of its most troubling periods after two Black men were arrested at a Philadelphia store. The arrests sparked nationwide protests and a huge amount of negative publicity. Brewer’s introduction of several major policy changes including racial bias training for all Starbucks employees has since been credited with helping the company weather the PR storm.
4. She’s on the board of directors at Amazon
Brewer has been a member of Amazon’s board of directors since February 2019. It’s believed that she will be stepping down from the position when she assumes her new role at Walgreens. She also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for her alma mater, Spelman College, on the Board of Directors for Lockheed Martin, the Board of Trustees for The Westminster Schools, and on the Board of Councilors for the Carter Presidential Center. Between 2006 and 2011, she served as a director of Molson Coors Brewing Company.
5. She’s experienced bias
Brewer has spoken openly about the challenges she’s faced as a Black woman in the corporate world. During a speech at Spelman College in 2018, she spoke of the constant racial bias she’s experienced during her career. “When you’re a Black woman, you get mistaken a lot,” she said. “You get mistaken as someone who could actually not have that top job. Sometimes you’re mistaken for kitchen help. Sometimes people assume you’re in the wrong place, and all I can think in the back of my head is, ‘No, you’re in the wrong place.’“If there is a place where bias doesn’t exist, I have not found it,” she added.
6. She’s taking over Walgreens
In January 2021, it was announced that Brewer would be leaving her position at Starbucks to serve as the new CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance. The appointment will make her the only Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, and only the 3rd Black woman to serve in that capacity in history. The first was Ursula Burns, who served as the CEO of Xerox from 2009 to 2016. The second was Mary Winston, the interim CEO at Bed Bath & Beyond in 2019.
7. She’s slated for a huge bonus
As MSN notes, when Brewer takes over the role of CEO of Walgreens, she’ll be receiving a signing bonus worth $25 million on top of her $1.5 million salary. The bonus includes a one-time “retention bonus” of $4.5 million which will need to be repaid if she decides to leave Walgreens without “good reason” or is fired for reasonable cause within the first two years of service. She’ll also be eligible for an annual bonus of three times her eligible earnings, along with long-term stock incentives, relocation benefits, and up to 50 hours of personal use of the company’s corporate jet each year.
8. She’s won multiple accolades
Throughout her career, Brewer has been honored on multiple occasions. In 2013, she was named as one of Forbes’ World’s 100 Most Powerful Women, as well as one of their Most Powerful Black Women of 2013. That same year, she was named as one of Working Mother’s Most Powerful Working Moms of 2013. She’s also been included in Fortune magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. In 2014, she was named the 64th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. The following year, she was included on Fortune 500’s Most Powerful Women List. If all that wasn’t enough, she’s also been awarded the Spelman College Legacy of Leadership award. Forbes currently ranks her as the 48th most powerful woman in the world: with her appointment to CEO of Walgreens, the next list from the publication will likely see her rise even further up the rankings.
9. She’s got a powerful message for other businesswomen
During a Facebook interview with TV host Shaun Robinson in December 2020, Brewer outlined her most important message to other women in business. “You’re going to get it wrong sometimes, and there are some ways to clean up your mistakes,” she said “First of all, admit that you made the mistake. But, keep using your voice.”
10. She’s big on sustainability
During her tenure with Starbucks, Brewer has introduced some major changes. In addition to implementing racial bias training for all employees, she’s also introduced several sustainability initiatives. One of the most popular was the introduction of a reusable alternative to the Starbucks holiday cup.