Business Leaders: Walgreen's Greg Wasson

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Name: Gregory D. Wasson
Age: 53
Company: Walgreen Co.
Position: President and CEO
Previous role: COO
Education: Bachelor's degree from Purdue University (1981)
Quote: "I just stuck to what I'd done, doing my job as COO. If I was the right guy, they'd choose me, and if not, so be it."

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At the start of 2012 when a contract between Walgreen (WAG) and Express Scripts expired,  Walgreen's customers could either switch to a new pharmacy within the Express Scripts network or stay with Walgreen. 

Greg Wasson, Walgreen's president and CEO, established a program to help patients through the transition, saying that he wanted to do right thing and that the No. 1 priority was to take care of patients.

Wasson's career has been characterized by loyalty, to both his customers and company. Trained as a pharmacist, he has spent his entire career with Walgreen, from intern to CEO in 29 years.

Wasson was born in Lafayette, Ind., and raised in Monticello. While studying at Purdue University's school of pharmacy, Wasson started his career with Walgreen as a pharmacy intern. From there, he was hired full-time and worked his way up to a management position. Not long after that he was managing multiple drugstores in the Houston area and was chosen for the role of district manager in 1986.

He worked steadily in this role throughout the remainder of the decade and for most of the 1990s. Before the new millennium, he was appointed regional vice president of store operations. He didn't stay in this role for long because he was soon tapped to serve as the company's vice president.

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He was senior vice president from 2004 to 2006 and executive vice president from 2005 to 2007, and he took on the additional role of president of Walgreen Health Service from 2002 to 2007.

In 2007, his career took a giant leap upward when he became president and COO, and then CEO in 2009, while maintaining his role as president.

Alan McNally, chairman of Walgreen's board, said, "Greg is a strong, natural leader and strategist with a clear view of where he wants to take this company to deliver improved shareholder returns."

As the company's leader, he has been noted for leading an overhaul of the storefronts to increase customer sales.

During his time as CEO, the organization grew by buying out a major competitor. In 2010, Wasson led the company's $620 million purchase of Duane Reade, which he said was important because it would have taken many, many years to gain that type of presence in New York.

According to the Form 14A proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, his total 2011 compensation was $12.1 million. This figure was comprised of his $1.2 million salary, $5.6 million in stock awards, $2.2 million in option awards, $2.67 million in non-equity incentive plan compensation, $16,416 change in pension plan and non-qualified deferred compensation earnings and $339,977 in other compensation.

Wasson is chairman of the board of directors for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, as well as chairman for the Illinois chapter of the American Cancer Society's CEOs Against Cancer and co-chair of Chicago fundraisers for ACS, the American Heart Association's 2010 Chicago Heart Ball, Junior Achievement and the Chicago Academy of Sciences 2011 Annual Butterfly Ball to benefit the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

He is also a board member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, The Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Consumer Goods Forum, World Business Chicago, the Healthcare Leadership Council and the Midtown Educational Foundation.

He is a member of The Business Council, the civic committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, The Wall Street Journal CEO Council and The Economic Club of Chicago.