Inside This Issue - News
Walgreens names Chawla as chief marketer
December 16th, 2013
DEERFIELD, Ill. – The restructuring of Walgreen Co.’s management team continues. Under the leadership of Sona Chawla, the chain’s new Digital and Marketing Division will combine and integrate e-commerce, enterprisewide marketing, and customer loyalty and insights.
Chawla will head the division in the newly created role of president of digital and chief marketing officer. She had been president of e-commerce.
The division combines groups that have significantly advanced Walgreens’ Well Experience strategy. They have built a strong corporate brand through a Web and mobile presence, the Balance Rewards loyalty program and customer segmentation and insights. Bringing these teams together will allow the company to leverage its combined talent, knowledge and assets to accelerate its omnichannel vision.
“Our goal is to optimize our marketing investments and mix to reach consumers where they are as their use of digital media continues to escalate,” Chawla said. “This means more than just adding digital media to our marketing portfolio. We also will adopt a digital mind-set throughout our marketing efforts.”
President and chief executive officer Greg Wasson said, “Digital technology continues to drive major change in retail and health care, and Walgreens is moving full speed ahead to harness and combine digital, marketing innovations, and customer loyalty and insights to give customers what they want, where and when they want it. With Sona’s success in establishing Walgreens as a retail digital pioneer, her leadership of our combined digital and marketing efforts will continue to accelerate our Well Experience strategy to step out of the traditional drug store format and create a truly differentiated experience for customers and patients.”
Alex Gourlay, president of customer experience and daily living, said, “Bringing our digital, marketing and consumer technology together and linking it with the powerful consumer data and insights we get through our Balance Rewards program and digital channels will further position Walgreens as a customer-driven brand. With her experience and success in advancing Walgreens digital strategies and online customer experience, Sona is the perfect leader to accelerate our rapid evolution into omnichannel marketing and customer engagement.”
Chawla joined Walgreens in July 2008 as senior vice president of e-commerce and was promoted to her current position in January 2011. Her team has been responsible for the company’s digital strategy and implementation to support the health and daily living businesses across the Walgreens portfolio of websites, mobile and stores.
Prior to joining the chain, she was vice president of global online business at Dell Inc. from 2006 to 2008 and worked at Wells Fargo’s Internet Services Group from 2000 to 2006, where she held several roles and left the company as executive vice president of online sales, service and marketing. Before that, she worked for Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) from 1999 to 2000 and Mitchell Madison Group from 1994 to 1999. In 2012 Chawla was appointed to the board of directors of Express Inc., a specialty retail apparel chain.
Walgreens also announced that Graham Atkinson, senior vice president and chief marketing and customer experience officer, is retiring at the end of January. Atkinson has been responsible for developing and leading Walgreens enterprise marketing and loyalty strategies, with an emphasis on customer experience. He led the successful and record-setting launch of the Balance Rewards customer loyalty program in 2012, now with more than 85 million members.
“Graham has had an extraordinary impact on Walgreens and we are indebted to him for his vision, leadership and accomplishments,” Wasson said. “We asked Graham to join our team and take on a singular focus — to launch the most successful customer loyalty program in retail history — and he did just that. Beyond Balance Rewards, importantly, he also instilled customer-centric principles into our culture and took on the additional role of chief marketing officer in the past year to build and develop our corporate marketing function.”