Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) has named a new chief information officer to lead the improvement of the digital experience for customers and patients, as the drugstore retailer continues its next phase of growth into a customer-centric healthcare company.
Neal Sample was named executive vice president and CIO, effective immediately. He succeeds Hsiao Wang, who departed Walgreens in early October, less than a year after he was hired.
Sample will report to Tim Wentworth, CEO of WBA, as a member of the executive committee and serve on the IT governance committee. He has been working alongside WBA technology leaders over the course of the last month to assess and advance the company’s technology goals. Moving forward, he will lead the strategy for WBA’s IT function and the implementation of its technology and digital innovation.
“I am excited to welcome Neal to our executive leadership team and confident that as our CIO he will help take our IT capabilities to the next level using his strong background and experience in formulating modernization plans, implementing technology solutions, accelerating growth and redefining standards of execution excellence,” said Wentworth. “He will be a key component to achieving our goals as we build on the company’s pharmacy strength and trusted brand to evolve healthcare delivery.”
Sample is an award-winning technologist and seasoned executive who has a strong track record of driving growth and innovation. He brings more than 20 years of experience across highly regulated industries including healthcare, financial services and consumer internet, and has worked at start-ups and legacy Fortune 100 companies. He is passionate about building talent pipelines, paving progressive career paths and positively impacting communities.
“WBA has a powerful vision to be the leading partner in reimagining local healthcare and wellbeing for all. I am eager and excited to continue working alongside an incredibly talented and dedicated team to advance technology and digital innovation at WBA toward our goal to be the independent partner of choice in pharmacy and healthcare services,” said Sample.
Sample currently serves as chairman of the board at Wellfield Technologies, Inc., as well as the chair of the board of Trustees for the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, Missouri. He was previously the CIO for Northwestern Mutual, where he rebuilt, optimized and centralized the technology function for the company. During this time, he was able to attract and develop world-class leaders in security, data, engineering and infrastructure, raise internal and external technology metrics, and implement several automated and self-service capabilities for clients.
Prior, he served as chief operating officer and CIO of Express Scripts, where he streamlined operations, accelerated growth, improved key operating metrics, launched a new product line, led the architecture and platform delivery of complex information systems for nearly 30,000 employees and 80 million patients nationwide, retired legacy mainframe applications and transitioned the organization to the cloud.
He also held several roles within the enterprise growth business at American Express including EVP, chief marketing technologist, and CIO, before being named president. While there, he pioneered product launches focused on digital banking alternatives for lower-income individuals, improved EBITDA, led spin-off and wind-down of non-core businesses, transformed a waterfall product development organization to Agile, updated and moved mainframe application suite to the cloud and launched major new digital co-branded products with key industry players. Sample also previously held roles at eBay, Yahoo! Inc. and RightOrder, Inc.
Sample is a thought leader in information technology, holding more than a dozen patents as the author of various published works. He earned his Doctorate and Master of Science in Computer Science from Stanford University and his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Wyoming.