by Walgreens News
04 March 2020
They’re leading teams, making key decisions and saving lives. They’re a voice of reason and a reason to believe. Meet some of the extraordinary women of Walgreens.

Walgreens has a workforce that’s 68 percent female, which means there are more than 150,000 women across the country caring for millions of our customers and patients every day. What drives these women, and how did they get here? Each one has a unique story to tell.
 
Walgreens News sat down with some of them – attorneys, pharmacists, computer scientists, innovators – to hear about their paths, the battles they’ve fought and the things they’ve learned along the way. Join us as we celebrate them and every woman of Walgreens in honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday, March 8, and every day.


Stacey J. Brown

Vice president, Labor Relations and HR Strategy & Solutions
 
On self-advocating: One of my mentors once told me, “Never accept an offer they would not give to a man.” Shortly after, I was presented an opportunity that felt less than it should be, and that’s when I learned to self-advocate. Until then, I had not learned to know my own worth and demand it.
 
Her biggest inspiration: My mother. She and my father married early, and she devoted her life to raising her two daughters. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned she was a freedom fighter on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the ’60s. My mind was blown. To see her now as a mother and grandmother, it makes me want to do more and be better, and have an impact on lives bigger than my own.
 
On challenges she’s faced: When I first went to work at a law firm, I was told they should not have hired me because I got pregnant. When I was an attorney and I would walk into a courtroom, I was often mistaken as a court reporter. When I was in my first week at a corporate role, a few colleagues asked to see my résumé because they didn’t believe I was qualified. Each time I told myself, “Don’t stop. Don’t quit. You are stronger than your circumstances.”
 
Her guilty pleasure: My favorite part of my day is when my kids have practice in the evening, and I sit outside in the parking lot and read for an hour. The books I love are trash – anything that doesn’t make me think too hard. It’s how I take a brain break.

Yi Gu

Senior director, Digital and Marketing
 
Her favorite time of day: I lead a team that runs Walgreens marketing through paid search, paid social, affiliates and organic search. We’re often reacting to requests from our teams, managers and partners across brand marketing, creative, ecommerce, pharmacy and retail products, among others. So the part of my day that I really treasure is the thinking time. I’ve found if I don’t protect some time in my day or week to really plan for priorities, to really think about a problem that I need more time to digest, then my response is just way too reactionary.
 
On focusing on your strengths: There’s a stat that if a man and a woman are applying for a job and read the same job description, a man will apply if he has one bullet out of 10 and a woman will disqualify herself if she doesn’t have one bullet out of 10. I’ve learned over the years that whether it’s sharing successes in day-to-day work or in presenting yourself for an opportunity, it’s much more important that you focus on what you can do, versus what you aren’t able to do yet. Early in my career, I under-indexed how important that is.
 
Her management style: I manage a bit differently depending on the person I’m working with. There’s a perception that micromanaging is bad, but there are also situations when you’re a hands-on manager and that’s OK, and even good. Understand the situation, where the person needs help and where they don’t, and be willing to jump in when they do.

Suzzette Jaskowiak

Divisional vice president, Pharmacy and Retail Technology
 
On sleeping with her phone: I oversee all our pharmacy, health care and call center technology, so I’m always on call. I leave my phone on all night, every night, at full volume. If something goes wrong, I’m responsible.
 
Her love for STEM: I love problem-solving, so I pursued degrees in math and computer science. My mom was a technology consultant and a role model for me, and I want to be able to show girls that being a woman in STEM is possible. I’m active with Girls Who Code, Chic Tech and Girls on the Run, which is not a STEM organization, but does help build self-confidence – something you have to have to survive in STEM. This passion must have rubbed off on my three children; they’re all in or planning on getting into STEM careers.
 
On unofficial mentoring: I love mentoring people, and I’ve had some really good mentors and professional coaches who took a vested interest in me and my career. Sometimes it’s official, and other times it’s not. Mentors don’t have to know they’re mentors. I’m always observing people, listening and seeing how people act. You can learn so much from people just by paying attention.
 
Her career advice: The most important thing is to dream big. See yourself in that top role. You will never get there if you don’t aim high. There’s nothing preventing you from becoming a chief information officer.

Alvina Lee

Specialty pharmacy manager, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
 
On the role of the specialty pharmacist: I work at a hospital, and we see patients who are really sick with things like cancer or chronic inflammatory diseases, or who have undergone transplants. They require a lot of interactions with their health care team, including pharmacists. Before they ever leave the hospital, we work to make sure they’re counseled on their medication and able to afford it. A lot of their medications have a direct impact on their lives, which makes our support even more critical.
 
Her thoughts on women’s health: We see patients who are struggling with infertility, and I feel strongly that this is an issue women should not feel ashamed to talk about. If you’re struggling with infertility, or you’ve had a miscarriage or postpartum depression, speak up. Talk about it – there are so many resources, and so many more women struggling, than you might realize. Continuing to talk about these issues will make it less taboo to ask for help.
 
On becoming a mom: Before I had my daughter – she just turned 5 months old – I was concerned about taking maternity leave. I kept thinking, would taking this time off hinder me from continuing to advance in my career? Am I being fair to my patients? In hindsight, I learned that this was the best bonding time for my daughter and me. Being in the specialty field, you have to have compassion and empathy for other people. I think being a mom adds another layer on top of that, and it has made me an even better pharmacist.

Shamequa Norwood

Recall project lead, Global Brands Sourcing and Supply
 
Her first job: A Walgreens cashier – I had my heart set on working here. Within my 15-year tenure, I’ve had the opportunity to transition from stores to corporate, work in IT, Merchandising and now Global Brands. The journey I’ve taken from our stores to where I’m at now has been incredible.
 
What she does now: I’m responsible for monitoring front-end recalls and working quickly to help ensure product is pulled from the shelf. We once had a raw material recall on sunflower seeds and needed to identify all the inventory impacted, such as granola bars and trail mixes, and quickly remove the affected merchandise. I know I’m doing something so important: helping keep our customers safe and protecting our brand.
 
On mom guilt: When my son was younger, I felt bad that I couldn’t pick him up after school and attend events because I was working. My mom stepped in to help, and knowing he was in great care eased some of that guilt.

Rachael Rodman

Director of Pharmacy and Retail Operations, Chicago North
 
Her most pivotal career moment: Every time I haven’t said “no.” “Do you want to go to San Francisco?” Cool. “Do you want to go to Chicago?” Awesome. There have been so many pivotal moments, but it’s all about stretching yourself. It has provided many experiences and allowed me to work in many different types of environments.
 
On work-life balance: Family has to come first. To advance in my career and become a district manager, I knew I’d have to relocate – so I needed to make sure my family was in the right place in order to do that. I spent a lot of years not willing to relocate with my kids in school. My kids are older now, so it’s much easier to balance my career with being a mother. At the end of the day, I need to sleep well knowing that my first job on this earth is being a mother.
 
Her career advice: Take on every challenge like it’s a new adventure, and always have your arms open to learning.