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From cashier to corporate

Luke Astle, '11

There’s something to be said about being ambitious and setting yourself up for opportunities. At the time, Luke Astle may have had an idea that his hard work would pay off, but more so he just genuinely enjoyed learning about the many concepts of business and how they support each other. So he pursued a triple concentration in marketing, finance and economics.

Originally from Idaho, he chose to attend Mesa because it was a destination college experience at a reasonable price. Even with the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) discount he had to work hard to minimize student debt, so he worked at Walgreens throughout his time in college. He applied his ambitions to his work life and as a result he was able to work his way up to pharmacy tech and eventually a store manager in training before completing his college degree.

Since he liked the Walgreens culture he started applying for store leadership positions a few months before graduating in hopes for a long-term career, but he wasn’t getting any breaks. So he scrolled through the corporate finance directory and found the first person with the same name, Luke, and gave him a call. The Walgreens executive was impressed by his initiative so he advised him to apply for their Finance Development Program. There were 500 applications for the seven spots, but Luke earned one of them.

The hiring authority said he was the first candidate from west of the Mississippi River to get into the training program. They usually went with candidates from larger Big 10 schools nearby, so he told him he better not mess up or else they may never bring someone on from the West again.

He certainly didn’t mess up. In fact, he completed the two-year trainee program and a year doing rotations in various strategic business units to experience how the various departments support one another. He’s been on an upward trajectory ever since serving in progressive roles like a digital and marketing finance analyst; merchandise finance manager for grocery and household; and is currently the national senior finance manager for beauty and personal care.

In all of these roles, he’s provided unbiased expertise on business performance and future performance while looking to identify growth opportunities. He’s thankful for the broad business education he received at CMU and said the small class sizes and deeper relationships with professors helped him feel comfortable in asking the tough questions, which has helped him excel.


Written by Jared Meier