Walgreens has another opening in its C-suite, as Chief Information Officer Hsiao Wang has left the company effective immediately, a company spokesperson confirmed Monday.
Wang joined Walgrees about a year ago, after having been CIO at Michaels Cos. and before that chief technology officer of Sam’s Club. Neal Sample, a consultant and former CIO at Northwestern Mutual, is stepping in to temporarily lead Walgreens' technology initiatives, the spokesperson said.
Wang is the third high-profile executive to exit Walgreens in less than two months. Former CEO Rosalind Brewer stepped down, by mutual agreement, in late August after two and a half years in the top spot. Walgreens appointed Ginger Graham as interim CEO. Also in August, James Kehoe, who came to Walgreens in 2018, resigned as chief financial officer to join financial-technology company FIS Global.
Analysts say the C-suite departures are related to hiccups in Walgreens' expansion of its healthcare services operation, which reported a year-to-date operating loss of $483 million as of May 31. Walgreens has bet big on healthcare services, including a multibillion-dollar investment in primary care provider VillageMD, which is rolling out hundreds of clinics co-located with Walgreens stores. It also acquired Summit Health-CityMD earlier this year.
Walgreens said in 2021 it would invest $970 million to take a majority stake in specialty pharmacy company Shields Health Solutions. In 2022, Walgreens announced a $392 million investment to buy the rest of home care company CareCentrix.
Industry watchers have said Walgreens should look for executives with healthcare backgrounds. The company is reportedly in talks with Tim Wentworth, a former Cigna Group executive, for the CEO role.
"There are a lot of uncertainties at the moment, but it could be beneficial to tap someone who is experienced and offers a perspective from the [PBM] side of the equation," said Keonhee Kim, an equity analyst for Morningstar, referring to Wentworth's background with pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts.
The pharmacy business and knowledge of payers is critical to Walgreens' turnaround, Elizabeth Anderson, managing director and research analyst at Evercore ISI, wrote in a report.
"If Walgreens is close to a decision regarding new management, we would view the short timeline ... as a positive pointing to the seriousness with which the board is taking this decision as well as the ability of the company to get a new team quickly to begin to actually run the organization," Anderson wrote.