Ornella Barra

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Ornella Barra
Ornella Barra at Univ of Nottingham.JPG
Ornella Barra, 2008
Born December 1953 (1953-12) (age 62)
Chiavari, Genoa, Italy
Residence Monaco
Nationality Monegasque
Alma mater University of Genoa
Occupation Company Director
Employer Alliance Boots
Known for Executive Director, Alliance Boots
Title Chief Executive, Wholesale and Brands, Alliance Boots.
Partner(s) Stefano Pessina
Website www.ornellabarra.com

Ornella Barra (born December 1953) is an Italian-born Monegasque businesswoman. A qualified pharmacist, she has been involved in the healthcare industry for her entire career, and is currently Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and President and Chief Executive of Global Wholesale and International Retail.[1] Within Walgreens Boots Alliance, Ornella Barra oversees International Retail, which is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division, as well as directing the Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division.[2] She has been the partner of the Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina for over 30 years.[3] Ornella was ranked 5th in Fortune Magazine’s 2015 most powerful women in business list for Europe, Middle East and Africa.[4]


Ornella Barra was born in December 1953[5] in Chiavari, Genoa, northwest Italy,[6][7] into a family of entrepreneurs.[8] Having graduated as a pharmacist from the University of Genoa in 1979,[6] she worked at the start of her career as a manager of a pharmacy which she then acquired.[citation needed] After building up a successful regional pharmaceutical distribution company, Di Pharma, she later sold the business to Alleanza Farmaceutica, founded and managed by Italian entrepreneur Stefano Pessina, which later grew to become Italy’s leading pharmaceutical wholesaler. He and Barra became partners in both personally and professionally, sharing a house in Monaco.[9]


Barra is Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. and President and Chief Executive of Global Wholesale and International Retail.[1] Walgreens Boots Alliance was created through the combination of Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014. [10]

The Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division is present in 19 countries and supplies more than 180,000 pharmacies, doctors, health centres and hospitals from 340 distribution centres. Moreover it supports a large network of independent pharmacies and operates a number of owned pharmacies. Barra also oversees International Retail, which includes main business units (Thailand, Norway, The Netherlands, Mexico and Chile), as well as China and The Gulf.[11]

In 1984, Barra founded a pharmaceutical distribution company in Italy and was made Managing Director two years later, the same year the company was acquired by Alleanza Salute Italia[12] (now Alliance Healthcare Italia). During this time, Barra also contributed to the creation of Alliance Santé, the Franco-Italian group with interests spanning Europe, and was made Board member in 1990.[13] Following Alliance Santé's merger with UniChem in 1997, she then went on to become a Board member and Executive Director of Alliance Unichem.[14]

Barra is an honorary professor[15] of the University of Nottingham's School of Pharmacy where she delivers lectures on the four-year MPharm degree. Barra will also act in an advisory capacity to assist the school in the further development of the course and has joined the External Advisory Board for the school's activity at the University's Malaysia Campus, where it runs the first two years of an MPharm degree fully accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.[16] She is also very active in the European Pharmacists Forum, an organisation that supports European Pharmacists, discussing new ideas and encouraging positive dialogue.

Barra is the Chair of the WBA Social Responsibilities Committee [17] In April 2013, Ornella Barra was appointed to the Board of Directors of Assicurazioni Generali, one of the most significant players in the global insurance and financial products market.[18]


Ornella Barra opening a Boots Apotheek Retail Store in the Netherlands

2014:Following the formation of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Ornella Barra is appointed as Executive Vice President of Walgreens Boots Alliance and President and Chief Executive of Global Wholesale and International Retail

1979: Graduated as a pharmacist from Genoa University. Subsequently became a manager and then owner of her own pharmacy
1984: Founded a pharmaceutical distribution company near Genoa, which was later acquired by Alleanza Salute Italia in 1986
1986: Managing Director of Alleanza Salute Italia, which became the first Italian Pharmaceutical Wholesaler to attain national coverage. She also contributed to the creation of the international company Alliance Santé, following a number of acquisitions in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Morocco.
1990: Member of the Board of Directors of Alliance Santé France
1994: Chairman of Alleanza Salute Italia (now Alliance Healthcare Italia)
1997: Executive Director of the Alliance UniChem Board following the merger of Alliance Santé with UniChem to form the Alliance UniChem Group
1998: Member of the Board of Directors of Safa Galenica (Spain)
1999 Founded European Pharmacists Forum (EPF) and appointed Chairman of Alliance UniChem Farmaceutica (Portugal)to July 2005
2005: Appointed as Chairman of Safa Galenica (now Alliance Healthcare Espana) in November and Board Member of Alliance UniChem Farmaceutica (now Alliance Healthcare Portugal)
2006:Following completion of the merger between Alliance UniChem Plc and Boots Group PLC to form Alliance Boots, she became Board member of the new Group and Wholesale and Commercial Affairs Director. She has subsequently grown the Alliance Healthcare business.
2007: Member of the Alliance Boots Board of Directors following the acquisition of the Group by Stefano Pessina and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (AB Acquisitions) in June 2007. Chairperson of the Alliance Boots Social Responsibilities Committee.
2009: Appointed as Chief Executive of the Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division of Alliance Boots.
2013: Appointed to the Board of Directors of Assicurazioni Generali, the largest insurance company in Italy, in April. Also in September Ornella was appointed as Chief Executive, Wholesale and Brands of Alliance Boots.

Industry-related activities[edit]


In April 2013, Ornella Barra was appointed to the Board of Directors of Assicurazioni Generali, the largest insurance company in Italy.[18]

University of Nottingham[edit]

Ornella Barra after presenting her first lecture at the University of Nottingham, May 2008

Barra is a Special Professor at the University of Nottingham’s School of Pharmacy.[19] Barra lectures on the internationalisation of pharmacy business and issues of corporate social responsibility. The lectures[20] are designed for students studying the school’s four-year MPharm degree.

Barra is also a member of the External Advisory Board for the Malaysia campus. Here students can undertake the first two years of an MPharm degree fully accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

European Pharmacists Forum (EPF)[edit]

Barra founded, and is an executive director of the European Pharmacists Forum whose main aims are to support a European and transversal approach to the profession. The EPF brings together the 150,000 pharmacist customers of Walgreens Boots Alliance to facilitate the discussion of new ideas, the sharing of best practice and the exchange of positive dialogue between public authorities and manufactures. The EPF members represent 10 countries: the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Turkey and Germany.[21]


Ornella sits on the board of directors of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), of which she was named Chairman in October 2014. The IFPW promotes good distribution practices of pharmaceuticals. [22]


Barra was President of l'Associazione Distributori Farmaceutici (ADF) (association of pharmaceutical distributors) from 2006-09.[23]

ECR Europe[edit]

Barra became an Executive Member of ECR Europe (Efficient Consumer Response) in 2007.[24]

Personal life[edit]

She has been the partner of Stefano Pessina, Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance, for over 30 years.[3]


  1. ^ a b "World's most influential women in business - My first job (Chinese language)". Fortune China. 14 February 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Work is the drug that keeps Boots billionaire on song". The Sunday Times. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  4. ^ Fry, Erika. "Ornella Barra, 61". Fortune.com. Time Inc. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  5. ^ According to Bloomberg Businessweek she was aged 57 when her profile was retrieved on 28 August 2010; Simon Bowers, ‘Unichem's low-key Ornella Barra’, The Guardian, 5 August 2005, describes her as 51.
  6. ^ a b ‘Biography’, ornellabarra.com
  7. ^ Felsted, Andrea. "The cool chemist with health as a "hobby"". Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Simon Bowers, ‘Unichem's low-key Ornella Barra’, The Guardian, 5 August 2005.
  9. ^ , Harry Wallop ‘Business profile: A recluse who keeps making the headlines’, The Telegraph, 31 March 2007.
  10. ^ [(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/walgreens-and-alliance-boots-complete-step-2-of-merger-to-form-first-global-pharmacy-led-health-and-wellbeing-enterprise-2014-12-31]
  11. ^ [Ornellabarra.com][better source needed]
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ The Pharma Letter. "UniChem Farmaceutica/Alliance Sante merger". Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  14. ^ Simon Bowers. "Unichem's low-key Ornella Barra". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Ornella on list of powerful women". Nottingham Post. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  16. ^ "Press releases". Nottingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  17. ^ [Ornellabarra.com][better source needed]
  18. ^ a b "Ornella Barra dall'impero globale di Alliance Boots al Cda delle Generali". Archivio - la Repubblica.it. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  19. ^ "Marketing, Communications and Recruitment". Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  20. ^ [3][dead link]
  21. ^ [4][dead link]
  22. ^ [5][dead link]
  23. ^ [6][dead link]
  24. ^ [7][dead link]

External links[edit]