Ornella Barra

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Ornella Barra
Ornella Barra at Univ of Nottingham.JPG
Ornella Barra, 2008
Born December 1953 (1953-12) (age 63)
Chiavari, Genoa, Italy
Residence Monaco
Nationality Monegasque
Alma mater University of Genoa
Title Co-chief operating officer, Walgreens Boots Alliance
Partner(s) Stefano Pessina
Website www.ornellabarra.com

Ornella Barra (born December 1953) is an Italian-born Monegasque businesswoman.[1] A qualified pharmacist, she has been involved in the healthcare industry for her entire career, and is co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance.[2] Within Walgreens Boots Alliance, Barra oversees International Retail, which is part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division, as well as directing the Pharmaceutical Wholesale Division.[3] She has been the partner of the Italian billionaire Stefano Pessina for over 30 years.[4] Ornella was ranked 10th in Fortune Magazine’s 2016 most powerful women in business for female executives based outside of the United States.[5]


Ornella Barra was born in December 1953[6] in Chiavari, Genoa, northwest Italy,[7][8] into a family of entrepreneurs.[9] Having graduated as a pharmacist from the University of Genoa in 1979,[7] she worked at the start of her career as a manager of a pharmacy which she then acquired.[citation needed] After building up a 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.[10]


Barra is co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance.[2] Walgreens Boots Alliance was created through the combination of Walgreens and Alliance Boots in December 2014.[11]

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.[12]

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[13] (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.[14] Following Alliance Santé's merger with UniChem in 1997, she then went on to become a Board member and Executive Director of Alliance Unichem.[15]

Barra is an honorary professor[16] 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 accredited by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.[17] She is active in the European Pharmacists Forum, an organisation that supports European Pharmacists, discussing new ideas.[citation needed]

Barra is the chair of the WBA Social Responsibilities Committee [12] In April 2013, Barra was appointed to the board of directors of Assicurazioni Generali, Italy's largest insurance company.[18]

Barra opening a Boots Apotheek retail store in the Netherlands

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]

Barra is an honorary 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]


Barra sits on the board of directors of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers (IFPW), and has been 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 to 2009.[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, vice chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Walgreens Boots Alliance, for over 30 years.[4]


  1. ^ List of companies related to Ornella Barra - http://www.flixens.com/director/ornella-barra
  2. ^ a b Sweeney, Brigid (18 June 2016). "Meet the new Walgreens COO who's also CEO Pessina's companion". Crain's Chicago Business. Retrieved 28 July 2016. 
  3. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20120307002456/http://www.ifpw.com/barra.htm. Archived from the original on 7 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ a b "Work is the drug that keeps Boots billionaire on song". The Sunday Times. 18 November 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Arora, Rupali; Fry, Erika; Shi, Audrey; Zillman, Claire. "Ornella Barra". Fortune.com. Time Inc. Archived from the original on November 20, 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b ‘Biography’, ornellabarra.com
  8. ^ Felsted, Andrea. "The cool chemist with health as a "hobby"". Financial Times. The Financial Times Ltd. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Simon Bowers, ‘Unichem's low-key Ornella Barra’, The Guardian, 5 August 2005.
  10. ^ , Harry Wallop ‘Business profile: A recluse who keeps making the headlines’, The Telegraph, 31 March 2007.
  11. ^ [(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]
  12. ^ a b [Ornellabarra.com][better source needed]
  13. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100106024828/http://www.ifpw.com/2008gmm/bus_speakers.htm. Archived from the original on 6 January 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ The Pharma Letter. "UniChem Farmaceutica/Alliance Sante merger". Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  15. ^ Simon Bowers. "Unichem's low-key Ornella Barra". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "Ornella on list of powerful women". Nottingham Post. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  17. ^ "Press releases". Nottingham.ac.uk. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  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. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20101202041444/http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pharmacy/news/ornellabarra.aspx. Archived from the original on 2 December 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20081225074518/http://www.europeanpharmacistsforum.com/html/en/epfOverview/epfOverview.html. Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20090117042229/http://www.ifpw.com/index.html. Archived from the original on 17 January 2009. Retrieved 27 May 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100223111707/http://www.adfsalute.it/presentazione/comitatopresidenza.asp. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100129091212/http://ecr-all.org/about-ecr-europe/organisation-and-principles/executive-board/. Archived from the original on 29 January 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]