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McMillon takes reins as CEO at Walmart

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The world’s largest retailer, Walmart, has a new boss. Doug McMillon, an Arkansas native and head of the company’s international division, takes over this month from retiring CEO Mike Duke, who has been at the helm for five years and will remain on the board.

Walmart has a history of grooming leaders from within. In fact, McMillon is one of the few top executives who worked directly under founder Sam Walton.

McMillon first joined Walmart in 1984 as an hourly worker unpacking trucks. He rejoined the company in 1990 and became a buyer trainee in sporting goods. He tells a story from one of his first days as a fishing-tackle buyer, when Walton placed a yellow sticky note on his desk, asking him to match the price of fishing line that was selling for less at Kmart. It was then, McMillon says, that he learned “a sense of urgency.”

His southern charm and affability have endeared him to the Waltons, still the largest shareholders. McMillon will need all his skills to reverse sluggish sales, charges of bribery abroad and protests over low pay at home.

— Adapted from “Wal-Mart Taps Veteran as New CEO,” Shelly Banjo, The Wall Street Journal.

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