Doug McMillon Was Raised to Run Walmart
During my time at Walmart, we often said that the only thing that is consistent is change. Change is coming in February, as Doug McMillon will take over as CEO. In my opinion, he is the perfect candidate for the job and will bring a positive future of innovation and growth to Walmart.
Doug, quite literally, grew up at Walmart. His dad was an associate with the company. He worked his way up from loading trucks in a distribution center, in stores, as a buyer and even as general merchandise manager. He is someone who fully understands not only where the company is headed, but where it has been. Most importantly, he knows Walmart’s customers.
Doug has the leadership abilities needed for the job and has the experience to know what it takes to drive sales and be a leader on price. In addition, he has strong relationships with former Walmart executives to whom he can turn for counsel.
His experience as a buyer may pose a challenge for suppliers. I think he will be tough, expecting them to focus on EDLP offers and work with Walmart to improve trips and baskets. When things typically got difficult in years past, Walmart won by "focusing on the basics." I believe that Doug knows the "basics" as well as anyone.
The question becomes what will happen to Bill Simon, the head of Walmart’s U.S. business. He has done a great job and it would a loss for Walmart to do without his skills and leadership. Will he be moved to International or will he decide to move on from Walmart?
If Bill stays in his current job, will Walmart turn to Rosalind Brewer, current president and CEO of Sam’s Club, to lead its international business? If Bill goes to International, will Walmart U.S. name it current chief operating officer Gisel Ruiz to run that business?
This next year will be interesting to watch. Doug will have plenty of challenges to address, including better managing inventory to improve on-shelf availability, adding labor in-store to raise performance standards while reducing dependence on service providers in keeping shelves stocked. I believe he’s up to the challenge, but only time will tell.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Doug McMillon as he prepares to take over as CEO of Walmart? Do you see Mr. McMillon as a caretaker choice to follow Mike Duke or do you think he will reinvent Walmart’s business in significant ways?