CEO Series: An Interview with Walmart’s Douglas McMillon

As part of this year’s Aspen Ideas Festival CEO Series, James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, interviewed Douglas McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart International.

Walmart International is a fast-growing segment of the company’s overall operations, with more than 5,000 stores and 730,000 associates in 26 countries. McMillon previously served as president and CEO of Sam’s Club, an operating segment of Walmart, with sales of more than $46 billion during his tenure.

McMillon gave a view into his company, speaking about culture, values, the company’s dedication to sustainability, to honoring local cultures, supporting small businesses and local farmers. It was a view into the company  that might influence the way some people feel and think about Walmart, as evidenced at the end of the session when Fallows asked the audience whether they had a better impression of Walmart after hearing McMillon speak about the company and its values. About 80% of the attendees raised their hands.

Global Culture, Local Decisionmaking

McMillon has a long history with Walmart. Most of his 20-year career has been in merchandising in the Walmart US division, primarily in food, apparel, and general merchandise. He’s brought that experience to Walmart International and says that there are common themes across the global organization: the commitment to providing customers with a way to save money, to take care of their families, and to send kids to college. There’s a lot of commonality with the larger organization’s core values, which include: respect for the individual, striving for excellence, and serving the customer, says McMillon. “Our culture is strong, and our culture is global.”


Heard Around Aspen …

Some of the most interesting, provocative and salient quotes we heard around the Aspen Ideas Festival today:

“We are not perfect, but we are a force for good, and things are better because we are here.”Douglas McMillon, President & CEO, Walmart International

“Storytelling gives soul to technology.” - Kenji Williams, Founder & Director of Bella Gaia

“When did we start to give the responsibility of job creation to administrations as opposed to companies that have a lot more control over that?” – Heidi Moore, New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent

“Does leadership create the culture, or does the culture create leaders?” Susan P. Peters, VP of Executive Development & Chief Learning Officer, General Electric Company

“There is no distinction between social and ecological.”David McConville, President, Buckminster Fuller Institute


Walmart’s International Woes – Graphic of the Day

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. lost $10 billion of its market value on Monday on concerns that a bribery investigation in Mexico could be very costly and hinder its plans to grow. Today’s graphic looks at the company’s international sales, the number of stores it has worldwide and a timeline of recent major scandals.