Writing for Business Insider, Rebecca Knight, Shana Lebowitz and Marguerite Ward profile a trio of CEOs who have pursued effective strategies to improve their companies’ operations, profitability and market position. These CEOs represent different industries, but each created solutions and opportunities that show their understanding of their company’s operations, customers and employees. The CEOs also invested in addressing social issues. To select the CEOs it profiled, Insider solicited nominations, studied corporate financial data and considered “qualitative evidence” of firms’ approaches to significant social ills. Its findings highlight what the right CEO can accomplish.
- CEO Rosalind Brewer is transforming Walgreens into a significant healthcare provider, as well as a pharmacy company.
- FanDuel CEO Amy Howe works to bring more women into her industry and to raise public awareness of female athletes and equity in sports.
- Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, focuses on high quality food, employee opportunity and customer service.
CEO Rosalind Brewer is transforming Walgreens into a significant healthcare provider, as well as a pharmacy company.
CEO Rosalind Brewer took the reins at Walgreens Boots Alliance during the COVID pandemic. A former chief operating officer at Starbucks and past CEO of Sam’s Club, Brewer is one of only two Black female Fortune 500 CEOs (the other is Ursula Burns of Xerox). She has initiated significant changes at Walgreens through corporate acquisitions, investments and infrastructure technology. Under her leadership, Walgreens emphasizes diversity and inclusion. It became the first S&P 500 firm to publish data about the number of disabled people in its workforce.
“The biggest lesson here is to question the status quo and make decisions, pull triggers. This year has taught me to never settle, and to question.” (Roz Brewer)
Brewer shepherds her company forward in a competitive market as she seeks greater employee diversity and inclusion while prioritizing wages and benefits. Following the example of Walgreens’ larger competitor, CVS Health, Brewer intends to make healthcare as significant a component of Walgreens as its established pharmaceutical, retail and over-the-counter drugs business.
The nearly $9 billion acquisition of Summit Health-CityMD was a major step toward this goal. Walgreens intends to buy Shields Health Solutions, which makes specialized medications, for $1.3 billion. Walgreens also has encountered some pitfalls of the healthcare industry and is paying $5 billion to address lawsuits over selling opioids.
Brewer also plans to innovate by including mental health care treatment in the chain’s clinical services and by expanding its use of technology. She says diversity isn’t optional, and leaders must heed their workers and their community.
FanDuel CEO Amy Howe works to bring more women into her industry and to raise awareness of female athletes and equity in sports.
Amy Howe wants to increase the participation of female customers and employees in her industry. She hopes to broaden sports betting’s base by advocating equal pay for female athletes. As the only female CEO of a major US sports book operation – and head of the only sports-betting platform to make a profit – Howe believes encouraging female participation in sports wagering will significantly improve FanDuel’s bottom line.
FanDuel, a subsidiary of Flutter Entertainment, based in Dublin, Ireland expected revenues of $3 billion in 2022. Its management says the online gambling market could grow to more than $40 billion by 2030.
“Howe has managed to strike a delicate balance between continually reinvesting in the business while also recognizing that the market is calling for profitability.” (Chris Grove, partner emeritus at Eilers & Krejcik, research and consulting firm)
During 2022, Howe launched FanDuel TV, featuring a 24-hour broadcast mix of live sports and studio programming. The company became the official Fantasy partner of the WNBA and the New York Yankees. Challenging down the road include the regulatory environment, but so far 31 states have legalized sports betting.
Howe, who holds her MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, spent seven years at Live Nation Entertainment. She served as president and COO of Ticketmaster, where she engineered digital passes to replace hard ticketing.
Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle, focuses on high quality food, employee opportunity and customer service.
Brian Niccol plans to invigorate Chipotle’s workforce by raising the internal rate of employee promotion to a full 95%. He believes Chipotle will win more customers by improving its employees’ work experiences and focusing strongly on food quality and service. He hopes to build the restaurant chain from 3,000 North American locations to 7,000.
Although the company currently enjoys an internal promotion rate of 90%, the pandemic resulted in significant 43% turnover in 2020. The pandemic deeply affected the fast casual restaurant sector, forcing restaurants to increase benefits for employees. Many upper-level employees chose this difficult time to find work at Chipotle’s competitors.
“We’re serving high-quality food, and we’re giving you a place to grow your career. When you do those two things together, you end up with a really strong culture, really great people.” (Brian Niccol)
Niccol assessed this dynamic and developed a strategy to increase staff retention: promote from within and emphasize good food, profitability and customer satisfaction. The results have been significant, increasing Chipotle’s revenue to $2.2 billion in 2022 and increasing sales 7.6% in the third quarter of 2022. . At one California outlet, a robot named Chippy makes the tortilla chips.
Niccol, 48, former CEO of Taco Bell, a Yum Brands company, championed Chipotle’s digital transformation, which led to an increase in online food and beverage sales from 9% to 37%. Under his leadership, Chipotle increased wages and benefits, including scholarship funding for a range of academic degrees. Employees and customers have benefited from improved kitchen operations management that relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
About the Authors
Rebecca Knight is a senior correspondent at Insider, where Shana Lebowitz and Marguerite Ward are correspondents; Ward also oversees the Equity Talk section.