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Watch How CVS's CEO is Leading His Company into A Purpose-Driven Future

October 21, 2017 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated September 02, 2020 11:32 AM UTC

Larry Merlo reveals that CVS Health’s rolling changes were made with a specific mission in mind.

Larry, you've been with CVS now for almost 30 years. You've been CEO since 2011. What's the most important leadership lesson that you've learned through all those years? I think one of the things that I've learned is you never stop learning. And you know, I think because you're the CEO, everybody expects that you have all the answers. And I consider myself to be a teacher. But at the same time, I'm a student. And I learn from our people every day. You certainly have been reinventing CVS. Since you became CEO, what would you say is your proudest achievement? I think that the evolution from being a retail pharmacy company to being more of a health care company. You know, I think that's something that our entire organization is very proud of and something that a lot of people, you know, take deservingly an awful lot of credit in terms of the role that they played as part of that evolution. And we're not done. Well, you renamed the company CVS Health. So that was an important step. But still, CVS is a place that you can go to and pick up a candy bar and a sugary drink. So what is the next step? You know, Susie, I think that on the retail side of our business, we came to grips with the fact that, are we a convenience store that happens to have a pharmacy in the back? Or are we a pharmacy that has a convenience offering? I think you'll continue to see what we refer to as the front of our store evolve. You know, it will certainly have a focus on health. And the OTC products that we sell-- beauty, personal care-- we think those are all elements of well-being. You know, in order to make all of these changes and reinventions at CVS, you had to create a culture of innovation. How did you do that? That evolution really started by taking the time to define our purpose. A group of our colleagues-- very small group-- got together. They did a wonderful job, you know, in terms of, who are we today? And what do we aspire to? And they came up with a purpose. And that purpose was helping people on their path to better health. And we use that purpose as our guidepost. So given that you now know what your purpose is, when you're hiring and when you're mentoring this next generation of leaders at CVS, what are you looking for? What is it that excites you? OK. You know, some days are better than others. But what is that passion that is going to get you up every day and give you the belief that what I'm going to do today is going to make a difference in the lives of the people that we serve? So when you ask that question, what's the answer you want to hear? I want to hear people talk about whether-- it's their own way of saying, I want to help people on their path to better health.