CVS CEO Runs for RI Governorship
As a lifelong Rhode Islander and top executive at CVS Health, Helena Foulkes was often puzzled, even irked, by how many hires at the Rhode Island-headquartered company chose to settle in neighboring Massachusetts over the Ocean State.
Foulkes, who worked at CVS for 25 years—most recently as president of the $80 billion-a-year drugstore chain that generated almost half of CVS Health’s total revenue at the time—sometimes questioned her recruits on their decision to live in Massachusetts. Their answer pointed to what she thinks is Rhode Island’s biggest challenge, and what will be her top priority if she wins the Democratic primary in September and goes on to become governor.
“It was really one thing: the great public schools in Massachusetts,” Foulkes tells Fortune. CVS is based in Woonsocket, R.I., 15 miles north of Providence and about a 40-minute drive from larger Massachusetts centers like Worcester or Framingham. But the schools in that state justify the trek for many. “The Rhode Island education system is broken,” says the 58-year-old Foulkes, who as a top CVS exec was regularly featured on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women list.
Foulkes, who has never run for public office before, is betting that her business acumen running multi-billion dollar companies, most recently as chief executive of Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay, can give her an edge with voters tired of government inertia. “What I h
Though she has never worked in the field of education, she says her experience building teams in the private sector, hearing from and listening to underlings, and seeking out subject matter experts
have been frustrated by has been a sense of politicians talking a lot but not getting things done.”