Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on the Impact of Globalization and Culture | Summary and Q&A

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March 3, 2015
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on the Impact of Globalization and Culture

TL;DR

Walmart CEO discusses the company's global business, personal leadership experiences, and the importance of employee pay and opportunities.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why did Walmart increase employee pay and benefits?

The changes in employee pay and benefits were aimed at creating a better store experience and attracting and retaining great employees. Walmart believes that a good business needs engaged associates who are excited about their opportunities.

Q: How does Walmart balance economic reasoning with moral responsibility in setting employee pay?

Walmart believes in running a good business, but it also understands the importance of providing a living wage and being socially responsible. The company aims to create a meritocracy and ladder of opportunity for all associates.

Q: How did Walmart's expansion into international markets teach the company about scaling a business globally?

Walmart learned from its experiences in international markets, such as Germany and India, that cultural alignment, government regulations, and scale play a significant role in successfully scaling a business globally. Each market requires a tailored approach.

Q: How does Walmart maintain a consistent global culture with employees across different countries?

Walmart focuses on behavior and values. The company believes in delivering a purpose-driven core and four core values: service to the customer, striving for excellence, respect for the individual, and acting with integrity. Through a shared purpose and values, Walmart maintains a consistent global culture.

Summary

In this video, Doug McMillon, the CEO of Walmart, discusses various topics such as the recent changes in the company's wage rate, Walmart's moral responsibility, scaling a business globally, maintaining consistent global culture, balancing work and family, making difficult decisions, the future of the US grocery market, and dealing with outside scrutiny.

Questions & Answers

Q: Why did Walmart announce wage rate increases and other changes to their store associates?

Walmart aims to create a better store experience and exceed customer expectations by having engaged associates who care about their work. They believe that by running a great business, society and communities can benefit.

Q: Did moral reasons also play a role in Walmart's decision to increase associate pay?

While economic reasoning was the main driver, Walmart believes that running a good business contributes to sustainability, social and environmental responsibility. Their goal is to create a meritocracy and provide opportunities for their associates to exceed their own expectations.

Q: What did Doug McMillon learn about scaling a business globally during his time leading Walmart's international business?

It can be complicated and involves learning from experience. In the past, Walmart made mistakes by trying to impose their culture too quickly in Germany, leading to a failed integration. Government rules and policies can also play a role, as seen in India where Walmart's growth is restricted due to regulations on multi-brand retail.

Q: What strategies does Walmart use to enter new markets?

Walmart takes a portfolio approach and uses various strategies such as acquisitions, greenfield openings, and joint ventures depending on the specific market and government regulations. They focus on achieving scale and aligning with businesses that share similar values.

Q: How does Walmart ensure consistent global culture across its different countries?

Walmart places a strong emphasis on culture, which comes from their founder Sam Walton. They have a purpose of "Save money, live better" and four core values: service to the customer, striving for excellence, respect for the individual, and acting with integrity. They hire local talent to make market-specific decisions while providing tools and resources to align with Walmart's culture and business model.

Q: How has Walmart's business changed due to e-commerce disruption and how do they maintain their core values?

The core values remain the same, but the behaviors and go-to-market strategies may change. Walmart recognizes that the future of retail involves blending physical stores with technology, such as mobile and online platforms. They focus on people, treating them well, and ensuring they serve customers effectively, whether through digital experiences or in-store interactions.

Q: What kept Doug McMillon at Walmart for so long and how did he rise quickly through the ranks?

McMillon's love for the challenging nature of the business and his unexpected opportunities led him to stay at Walmart. He started with a summer job unloading trucks and progressed through various roles. His dedication, passion, and ability to adapt to different responsibilities contributed to his rapid rise within the company.

Q: How did McMillon maintain balance between his career and personal life, especially with extensive international travel?

McMillon believes that balance is personal and varies depending on individual priorities. He emphasizes the importance of managing one's personal well-being, making important decisions, and being conscious of what is important in each phase of life. McMillon managed the balance by being present for his family during key moments while also focusing on his career responsibilities.

Q: Can you share a story about a difficult decision McMillon had to make in his career?

The recent announcement of changes in Walmart's wage rate and structure is an example of a difficult decision. The decision was made collectively by evaluating input from different areas of the organization and considering the long-term implications. McMillon emphasizes the importance of having a great team that can help make decisions collectively.

Q: How does Walmart manage outside scrutiny from the media and Wall Street analysts?

Walmart takes a long-term view and focuses on the goals and vision of the company. They listen to outside criticism but prioritize their own objectives and remain committed to their culture, associates, and customers. Having the Walton family as major shareholders allows Walmart to think long-term and make choices that align with their values and business.

Takeaways

This Q&A session with Doug McMillon provides insights into various aspects of Walmart's business, leadership, and future direction. Walmart aims to create a better store experience and exceed customer expectations by having engaged associates who care about their work. They believe in running a great business, focusing on sustainability and creating a meritocracy. Walmart understands the challenges of scaling a business globally and uses a portfolio approach in entering different markets. Maintaining consistent global culture is important to Walmart, and they hire local talent while providing tools and resources to align with their core values. Balancing work and personal life is subjective and requires understanding individual priorities. Difficult decisions are made collectively with a focus on long-term implications. Walmart embraces outside scrutiny while remaining committed to their goals and vision. The future of the US grocery market involves quality, local produce, and changes in the way products are delivered to customers.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Walmart CEO discusses the recent changes in employee pay and benefits, explaining that they were aimed at creating a better store experience and attracting and retaining great employees.

  • He emphasizes the importance of running a good business and believes that if Walmart focuses on that, society will benefit and communities will thrive.

  • The CEO reflects on his personal leadership journey at Walmart and how the company aims to create a meritocracy, providing opportunities for employees to exceed their own expectations.

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