Walgreen Co. has appointed Graham Atkinson as senior vice president and chief customer experience officer and has promoted three other executives.

Walgreens, Graham Atkinson, United Airlines, Mileage Plus, Son Chawla, Mia Scholz, Robert Zimmerman, Greg Wasson, Wade Miquelon, drug store, e-commerce, chief customer experience officer, customer loyalty program, finance, accounting, controller, Duane Reade, chief strategy officer

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Walgreens hires customer experience officer, promotes execs

January 17th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has appointed Graham Atkinson as senior vice president and chief customer experience officer and has promoted three other executives.

Walgreens said Monday that Atkinson will join the drug store chain effective Jan. 24 and will be responsible for developing and leading the company's loyalty strategies, focusing on the customer experience. He will report to president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson.

Atkinson comes to Walgreens from United Airlines, where he was president of Mileage Plus, a leading customer loyalty program with more than 50 million members. In that role, he was responsible for improving the effectiveness of the loyalty program and extending the reach and impact of the program's marketing efforts, according to the drug chain. At United, he also previously served as executive vice president and chief customer officer and senior vice president of marketing.

Walgreens noted at its annual shareholders meeting last week that it was piloting a customer loyalty initiative among other efforts to enhance the front-end business of its stores.

"With Graham's 20-year career in marketing, customer experience, sales and operations at United, he brings valuable insight into driving customer loyalty both through marketing programs and in a complex business where employees are the true ambassadors for the brand," Wasson said in a statement. "We look forward to that perspective, as we continue to develop our approach to loyalty in our stores and across our organization."

Walgreens said the three executives being promoted "have made many valuable contributions" to the company.

Sona Chawla, currently senior vice president of e-commerce, has been promoted to president of e-commerce. "Under Sona’s visionary leadership, we have made extraordinary progress in our online, mobile and e-commerce capabilities," Wasson commented. "We have created an online presence to match our brick-and-mortar reach, and we are truly innovating with services like our Pharmacy Chat."

In addition, Mia Scholz, corporate vice president of accounting and controller, has been promoted to senior vice president of accounting and controller. "Under Mia's leadership, the company has continued a standard of excellence in finance and accounting stewardship as well as embarked on the largest accounting organizational transformation in Walgreens history," stated Wade Miquelon, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "Her financial acumen, critical analysis and careful decision-making are essential to the ongoing success of the company’s financial departments."

And vice president of corporate development Robert Zimmerman has been promoted to senior vice president and chief strategy officer. Walgreen said the move comes in recognition of the rising importance that strategy development plays at the company and his contributions leading business development, mergers and acquisitions, strategy development and planning.

"Bob has been influential in the development of the company's core strategies and initiatives, and under his leadership of our mergers and acquisitions team we successfully acquired the Duane Reade drug store chain in New York last April," Miquelon stated. "That is just one of many examples of the key transactions he has led in recent years. His keen insight and thoughtful counsel are critical to the continued evolution of our business strategy."

Zimmerman, along with John Spina, Walgreens' corporate vice president for retail integration and new format development, and Joe Magnacca, president of Duane Reade, were named Chain Drug Review’s 2010 Chain Drug Retailers of the Year earlier this month.