28th Nov 2013

Walmart names insider Doug McMillon CEO

Following a tough period involving labour disputes and sluggish sales, Wal-Mart Stores Inc has revealed that come February it will welcome a new CEO. After five years as chief of the world's largest retailer, on 31 January 2014 Mike Duke (63) will retire, and Doug McMillon (47) – who is head of Walmart’s international division - will replace him. The announcement, which came on Monday, coincides with the start of the holiday shopping season - tomorrow is Black Friday.

So, who is Doug McMillon?

Doug McMillon, an insider and a Walmart veteran, initially joined the retail giant in 1984 as summer employee. After earning his MBA from the University of Tulsa he rejoined Walmart in 1990. His tenure included various merchandising roles and heading up Sam’s Club. Then in 2009 McMillon took over Walmart International, and despite challenging economic times, under his stewardship the international division grew sales.

In a statement this week, chairman of Walmart’s board, S. Robson Walton spoke of McMillon “Doug is uniquely positioned to lead our growing global company and to serve the changing customer, while remaining true to our culture and values.”

Since its formation in the 60s Walmart has remained a family run business, with the Walton family still owning over 50% of the company. And historically, Walmart has always picked CEOs from within the organisation; McMillon’s appointment is no different. His main competitor for the top job was Bill Simon, who, having joined Walmart in 2006 is an outsider in comparison.

With labour disputes continuing, and competition from online retailers and dollar chains getting stiffer, McMillon will take charge of Walmart in trying times.

While he cannot avoid future challenges McMillon can try to anticipate and understand what these are most likely to be, thus positioning himself for the best start possible in his new role.

For this reason a detailed First 100 Days Plan is an invaluable tool during the early days of a leadership appointment. When things are tough, time is in short supply and the pressure is on, having a plan to fall back on may prove vital to success. It is a means of maintaining focus when focus is otherwise likely to be lost. At First100 we recommend writing a comprehensive First 100 Days Plan, which outlines specific objectives to be achieved by key milestones dates.

With the help of such a plan, McMillon should be able to stay focused on his aims - steering Walmart away from controversy and toward further growth - despite the challenges he will face.

Hilda Goold

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