FORT COLLINS — Ginger Graham, known locally as the founder and co-owner of Ginger and Baker Market & Bakery and The Cache restaurant in Old Town Fort Collins, has been named interim president and CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance (Nasdaq: WBA), the corporate umbrella over the global Walgreens and Boots pharmacy empire.
Graham, who has a long history as a top-tier executive in the pharmaceutical and health care industries, arrives in her post just as Walgreens stock is “on life-support” according to a news article published Tuesday by Nasdaq, the exchange where shares of Walgreens are traded and that has tracked the company’s steep recent decline.
“Is A Turnaround Possible?” the online story’s headline asks. If it is, it will be led by Graham, who has served on the Walgreens board since 2010, and who last year was chosen as the board’s lead independent director, or LID. The LID serves in crucial board administrative capacities and often performs as a mentor for the chairman and CEO. In that role, Graham was likely a key adviser to outgoing CEO Rosalind Brewer, who had led the company for three years.
The company announced Brewer’s departure, and Graham’s ascension to the interim CEO position, on Friday — the day that shares of Walgreens dipped to a 52-week low of $23.43.
Graham has been hands-on at Ginger and Baker since its inception in 2015, when she and her husband, Jack Graham, undertook the resurrection of the historic Feeders Supply Co. mill built in 1905, turning that building into the market-and-bakery component of their business. Frequent shoppers there, and diners at the cafe and The Cache restaurant, are likely to have met Ginger Graham at least once or twice during visits.
A call today to Ginger and Baker yielded this information on Graham’s circumstance: “She is likely to be away for at least a few weeks,” the person answering said. Walgreens, headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois, is ranked No. 27 on the Fortune 500 list of largest U.S. companies, has more than 262,000 employees and $132.7 billion in revenue.
Close acquaintances will not be surprised that Graham is the choice to head the company that includes the pharmaceutical chains known as Walgreens in the United States and as Boots in the United Kingdom. In fact, the job is not Graham’s first position as CEO of a major health care company. For four years after 2003, she was president and CEO of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, a biotech pioneer in medicines for people with diabetes.
Prior to that, Graham was a senior executive at Guidant Corp., a developer of cardiology technology, and recognized by IndustryWeek as among the “100 Best-Managed Companies in the World.” She began her career near Big Pharma’s top, in an executive role at Eli Lilly & Co.
Graham was also a faculty member of the Harvard Business School from 2009 to 2012. She has served in numerous board positions including Clovis Oncology Inc., Genomic Health Inc. and the advisory board at the Kellogg Center for Executive Women. For nine years prior to launching Ginger and Baker, she advised numerous executives in building health care businesses as president and CEO of her own firm, Two Trees Consulting Inc.