Drugstore Chain Debuts 'Walgreens University'

Published in CSP Daily News

Company to double investment in training for its 240,000 team members

Warren Lindley (left), Kathleen Wilson-Thompson,
Greg Wasson

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Walgreens is launching Walgreens University, with a goal to lead its industry in classroom and online programming that engages, educates and develops team members for rewarding long-term careers.

Following a ribbon-cutting on Feb. 22 led by Greg Wasson, Walgreens president and CEO, Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, chief human resources officer, and Warren Lindley, human resources divisional vice president, organizational design and effectiveness, team members celebrated the opening of a new university campus in Deerfield, Ill. The building, with technology-enhanced classrooms, a mock-drugstore and video-conferencing capabilities, will be the base of operations for employee educational programs offered online and in regional locations nationwide.

"Walgreens University is not solely a building, but a national program with national access and offerings for team members at every level of the company," Wilson-Thompson said. "We hope every one of our 240,000 team members will find ways to grow their careers and improve themselves through the educational opportunities that Walgreens University will expand or introduce."

With the opening of Walgreens University, the company is doubling its annual investment in employee education and development, and plans to double the number of learning opportunities through expanded online classes, regional training sessions and in classrooms. It will offer more than 100 courses through what it said is one of the few corporate training programs to offer college credit for certain classes, including pharmacy technician training and management and retail fundamentals.

"To meet our company goals, we need a workforce that learns and grows every day through opportunities available when, where and how each individual needs it," said Wilson-Thompson. "We aim to be the best in our industry for employee education and training, and among the best of all major American corporations. For Walgreens to compete effectively and expand our business, our team members need to continuously grow new skills and capabilities throughout their careers with us."

Education providers to Walgreens University include Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, offering a customized MBA program; University of Maryland University College; Webster University; the University of Phoenix; and DeVry University, Keller Graduate School of Management.

It will offer tuition discounts of 10% to 25% to many employees, and UMUC's 25% discount will also be available to employee spouses and dependents. Employees will also have access to noncredit management courses offered online from Harvard Business Publishing, a subsidiary of Harvard University.

The Walgreens learning and development team led by Warren Lindley, divisional vice president, organizational design and effectiveness, built the University curriculum and system of instruction after consultation with Walgreens leadership and external experts.

"We want Walgreens customers everywhere to find and experience in our stores the products and services they need to get, stay and live well. The launch of Walgreens University is a significant step toward consistent, higher quality training for our entire team at every corner of America. It also makes Walgreens a great place to work and grow professionally," said Bruce Bryant, Walgreens senior vice president and dean of Walgreens University with more than 40 years of experience with the company.

"If we are to attract, retain and develop the best talent, if we are to achieve the organizational agility necessary to adapt to changing markets, we need an industry-leading education and development," Wilson-Thompson said.

As the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2012 sales of $72 billion, Walgreens operates 8,067 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.