PHARMACY

DSN Women Leaders 2014: Shannon Curtin, Walgreens

BY Antoinette Alexander

“When you get a seat at the table, use it — and be fearless.” That’s a key piece of advice shared by Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin, and for those who know Curtin, they are words she lives by.

As Walgreens’ GVP/GMM beauty and personal care, Curtin has made her mark as a leader who is not afraid to take some risks, and one who embraces open communication and active listening.

“My personal and professional values are the same. First, I seek to understand others’ perspectives. For me, this lends itself to another important value — appreciating varying experiences and backgrounds,” Curtin said. “I believe both of these principles can be applied to many facets of life, but sometimes, silence is the best virtue. Practicing active listening can uncover deeper insights that lead to more fruitful relationships.”

That approach has helped unlock important partnerships for Walgreens. 

“The key to retailer-supplier success is having a forum in which we both seek to understand each other’s strategies, appreciate the different paths, yet find ways to come together where our strategies intersect. Also, not being afraid to make a definitive choice in each other is important.” Curtin said.

At Walgreens, her chief responsibilities include P&L management for the division, the education and program development of its 26,000 beauty advisers, the product portfolio decisions for the mass and prestige beauty business within Walgreens and teh expansion of its Boots partnership into the U.S. marketplace. It’s a role that Curtin embraces with fervor, as the beauty business has been a love of hers since she began selling gragrance in her hometown department store. 

“In my opinion, the beauty business is one of the last romantic businesses. It is a business based on trust, care and understanding the needs of another human being. It is not transactional in nature, but rather very emotional and personal,” Curtin said.

To view the full DSN Women Leaders 2014 report, click here.

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DSN Women Leaders 2014: Sona Chawla, Walgreens

BY Michael Johnsen

Sona Chawla, in her role as president of digital and chief marketing officer at Walgreens, is the architect who has effectively molded the Walgreens brand so that it fits into their customer’s apirations. “[It] is all about creating customer loyalty through the right customer experiences, initiatives and campaigns across all channels,” she told DSN. “Walgreens champions everyone’s right to be happy and healthy, and our company’s purpose continues to excite me with opportunities ahead.”

One of her biggest projects of late is Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices, which was launched earlier this year. “It’s a platform that takes our physical and digital assets and allows key partners to integrate with us to help people get fit, lose weight and manage their health.” As part of the program, Walgreens announced a partnership with WebMD and started selling a new Walgreens-brand wearable device in its stores. 

Chawla got her start in consulting with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) and Mitchell Madison Group. She also has served as EVP online sales and marketing for Wells Fargo and VP global online business at Dell. “Working as a consultant gave me a good external perspective, which I was able to take with me before taking on roles within financial services and technology organizations, she said. “Walgreens is my first role in retail.”

If Chawla could go back to the beginning of her career, she’d tell herself, “Practice discipline but be bold; embrace failure knowing that success isn’t automatic; be persistent and remember to enjoy life to the fullest,” she said. “One of my favorite quotes, spoken by one of tech’s best, Steve Jobs, is to be comfortable knowing that ‘the dots will connect when you look back.’”

In addition to directing Walgreens’ digital strategy, Chawla served on the board of directors of Express and on the board of trustees for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. 

To view the full DSN Women Leaders 2014 report, click here.

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DSN Women Leaders 2014: Dedra Castle, Rite Aid

BY Michael Johnsen

Because retail pharmacy represents the frontlines of health care today, the drug store operator who best connects to their customer/patient base gains a significant competitive advantage. That means willing with people. 

“Our business imperative is an intentional connection to our customers and patients for all that supports healthier lives,” Dedra Castle told DSN. “As such, the trust that must be earned and the market and wallet share that can be gained are tied to our success as an organization in offering the best employment experience for the 90,000 dedicated human beings who wear the [Rite Aid] name badge. The complexities of the regulatory environment of our industry, the evolving consumerism (ACA) of health care, and the need to attract, reward, engage and retain a high performance multi-generational work force make me wish that there were more hours in the day. Wonderfully enriching challenges,” she said.

Castle currently is working on “The Associate Experience” for Rite Aid, which connects Rite Aid associates to the uniqueness of Rite Aid employment through recognition and career opportunities. Castle has “a head for business, and a heart for the people” and brings to bear a rich, more than 19-year human resources career comprised of mass and specialty Fortune 500 retailers (including Sam’s Club, Winn Dixie and Auto Zone Stores), and the retail exchange program for the U.S. military. 

Castle is responsible for enriching the Rite Aid employee experience, and subsequently the customer experience. She wears a lot of hats at Rite Aid, including talent development, recruitment, associate opportunity, inclusion and diversity, associate engagement, labor relations, employment practices and compliance, executive leadership development and field and supply chain HR operations.

Castle leans on a quote from the late great author, poet and educator, Maya Angelou, as a source of grounding for her as a person and a professional: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

To view the full DSN Women Leaders 2014 report, click here.

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