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Xrayser: Is Boots' decision to hire from Disney its smartest move yet?

"Maybe Boots have played an absolute blinder and will end up becoming a blockbuster"

Walgreens Boots Alliance's Disney recruit has encouraged numerous jokes, but Xrayser thinks it may be the multiple that has the last laugh

Some jokes just write themselves, such as the time parliament was evacuated owing to a sewerage leak in 2015, or any time that Viagra comes up in conversation. If I still worked for Boots, news that their parent company has appointed a Disney executive into the newly created role of global chief digital officer would be too good to miss. But, despite the easy puns by several commentators to the C+D article, Boots may have the last laugh.

When you’re a student contemplating pharmacy as a career option, you think the skill mix requires biology, chemistry and maths. However, when you begin your degree – or apprenticeship – you find there’s also the need for consultation skills and the ability to make a presentation without death by PowerPoint.

As with work, so with life, it seems. Whether in the pharmacy or on Instagram, ever more it comes down to presentation skills, especially as we are constantly observed, thanks to the fashion for open-plan dispensaries, which make it look like we’re assembling in a trendy Michelin-starred restaurant. I wouldn’t be surprised to walk into a pharmacy one day and find patients sat around the outside of the dispensary like a medicines-themed version of YO! Sushi.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. With little to differentiate the offering of most high street pharmacies, we need something to make us stand out – a bit like X-Factor wannabees. While we share with X-Factor contestants the tragic backstory of poverty and overwhelming stress, we still need to look our best and impress the punters. Perhaps when reconstituting that liquid antibiotic, we could try channelling the spins and flicks of a nightclub cocktail preparation, or deliver patient counselling with the depth and passion of a Shakespearian soliloquy. “To be, or not to be taken with food…”

But even if you don’t go the whole Ian McKellen during the day job, we are seemingly ever more under scrutiny, if not by patients then by covert surveillance of the General Pharmaceutical Council. Now we suspect every request for some pregabalin under the counter could be a stooge from Canada Square wearing a wire and a covert GoPro, you just know that you’re going to look suspicious through a combination of performance anxiety and stage fright.

All these things considered, doesn’t it make complete sense for a pharmacy company to seek professional help to reach Hollywood presentation standards? For a chemist chain to want assistance with on-screen chemistry? Maybe Boots have played an absolute blinder and, despite jokes about being a Mickey Mouse organisation that’s looking a bit Goofy, will end up becoming a blockbuster.

Of course it could also work the other way. Maybe the new guy at Boots is actually there to scope out possible Disney titles such as CinderellaOne, Peter Pantoprazole or Lady and the Tramadol. After all, most Disney animated films follow a similar story line, where the plucky hero or heroine with a dull, repetitive existence and seemingly no opportunity to show their full potential, occasionally gets to save the day. That pretty much sums up our story.

A long-running C+D contributor, the identity of Xrayser remains a mystery, but his irreverent views are known by all. Tweet him @Xrayser


Brian Smith, Pharmacy technician

You joke about this stuff but we used to laugh and joke about pharmacy doing shift work....and now we are. Nothing is impossible with our industry. It’s turning into something most of us no longer recognise. So much for professionalism. 

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