Starbucks COO Roz Brewer is leaving the coffee giant to become Walgreens CEO, and the only Black woman leading a Fortune 500 company

roz brewer starbucks
Starbucks COO Roz Brewer is leaving the coffee giant.

Starbucks chief operating officer Roz Brewer is stepping down from the role, the coffee giant announced on Tuesday. 

Brewer has accepted a chief executive role at “another publicly-traded company and will be leaving Starbucks at the end of February,” the company said in a press release. 

Walgreens Boots Alliance is set to announce that Brewer will be the new CEO of the company, the Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. The Journal broke the news in the middle of Starbucks’ earnings call on Tuesday, with an analyst congratulating Brewer on the call. 

Brewer will replace CEO Stefano Pessina, who said in July that he would step down as the CEO of Walgreens when the company found a new chief executive. The company recently announced plans to build a 200-person internal technology startup.

Read more: Walgreens is teasing a 200-person in-house startup that aims to improve healthcare. Here’s what to know.

The new gig will make Brewer the only current Black female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Only two Black women have led Fortune 500 companies: Ursula Burns, Xerox’s CEO from 2009 until 2016, and Mary Winston, who was the interim CEO of Bed Bath & Beyond for less than a year in 2019. 

Women currently hold 30, or 6%, of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies as of December 2020, according to Catalyst, a nonprofit research group focused on advancing women in leadership roles.

Brewer’s ascent is not only significant for women but for women of color, who are dramatically underrepresented in senior management levels, according to the latest “Women in the Workplace” report by McKinsey & Company. Between January 2015 and January 2020, representation of women in senior-vice-president positions grew from 23 to 28 percent, and representation in the C-suite grew from 17 to 21 percent, according to the report. Additionally, one in five C-suite leaders is a woman, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color.

Read more: How Dunkin’ stole Starbucks’ crown as king of social media in 2020 using TikTok stars, purple drinks, and coffee-scented candles

Starbucks and Walgreens did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Brewer’s reported new job.  

“Roz, on behalf of the entire leadership team, I want to thank you for your leadership and wish you every success in the new role,” Johnson said on a call with investors on Tuesday. 

According to Starbucks, the chief operating responsibilities “are being distributed to other members of the existing leadership team.” Johnson promised that the company would “not miss a beat” as others take on Brewer’s responsibilities. 

Brewer had a big impact at Starbucks in less than 4 years

Brewer is no stranger to being the top boss.

Prior to coming to Starbucks, she served as president and CEO of Walmart’s Sam’s Club division. At the time, she was the first woman and first Black woman to lead a division of Walmart. 

When Brewer started at Starbucks in late 2017, she was charged with rebooting sales in the US.

At a 2018 shareholder meeting, she outlined several initiatives to revive sales including expanding the brand’s food business, increasing the number of cold beverages, expanding the company’s digital footprint, and boosting delivery options.

Under her watch, Starbucks’ beloved happy hour changed a couple of times, causing some controversy. In 2018, fans could only access happy hour promotions via the Starbucks app, a move aimed at driving mobile sales. A year later, the coffee giant launched a more consistent happy hour on Thursdays. 

Brewer quickly became an influential executive at the coffee giant. In 2019, she was named to Nation’s Restaurant News Power List.

Brewer is one of two top executives leaving Starbucks in the near future. Starbucks announced earlier in January that chief financial officer Pat Grismer will retire on February 1, serving as an advisor to Johnson through May 2. 

There have been some murmurs that Brewer had the potential to succeed Johnson at Starbucks’ next CEO. Johnson is the successor of Howard Schultz, the chain’s long-time CEO who built the company into the international giant it is today.

Are you a Starbucks worker with a story to share? Email ktaylor@insider.com. 

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