THE FINAL DAY OF THE WALMART PROGRAM

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There will be always someone smarter and wealthier, but you can be the most prepared one

 

Yesterday was my last day in Bentonville. When I was just about to travel here I felt like the two weeks in Arkansas would last forever. But as it always happens in such cases – the time flew so fast that already start missing this small oasis in the heart of America.

Walmart has taught me many things. Just imagine, I have spent two weeks in the company of vice-presidents that manage the company with an annual revenue of $485 billion (in 2016). Each of the five women that Doug McMillon personally chose to be my mentors set up a special schedule of meetings with their subordinates and colleagues (in addition to the time spent with me personally). All of them were happy to share with me their secrets, findings, described in detail their roles within the company. The only thing I got pretty tired of – is telling and retelling my own story, describing my career, my successes and achievements. Within these ten days I must’ve done it hundred times or more – and yesterday I even had to do it without prior notice in front of an audience of 200 people. Two of my mentors – Latriece Watkins and Karen Roberts – participated in the panel discussion held for the employees and devoted to risk-taking. Like I mentioned before, at Walmart they do anything and everything to motivate their employees to become better, more successful and more educated. Thus, the lectures of “executives” held for the staff of the company are quite a common thing.

Latriece and Karen spoke a lot about the importance of risk-taking when working for such a big company like Walmart. Both of them recalled events from their own careers that in the end resulted in getting promotions. Risk-taking in a huge corporation does differ from risk-taking in a small company – we all understand what’s at stake for a giant like Walmart in case of bad decision. Nevertheless, they are confident in here that risk – is the engine of progress and that risk-taking is possible and even necessary. That’s why they called me to the stage – the Americans truly believe that all of my career has been built on risk-taking that eventually paid off a thousandfold. As a matter of fact, the experience I gained in Walmart made me dramatically re-evaluate the things that I’ve done within the past few years and allowed me to look at my achievements from a different angle, thus inspiring me
for the new endeavors.

Of course, almost every person I met here would as me the same question: what lessons did I learn from this trip? Well, I don’t have a clear-cut answer yet. I don’t have one as I‘ve learned so many
things that I might require quite some time to analyze the experience I gained in an accurate and comprehensive way. The information that I received within the last 10 days could’ve taken me a year of reading and talking to people – but I was lucky enough to save up lots of time, learning the basics of a mass-market retail and the management of a public company.

During the last day of my time in Walmart I had a meeting with Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO. It was extremely important for me to discuss the results of my program with Doug and ask him a couple of vital questions about his career and his vision of the future of the company. Doug – is an incredibly charismatic leader who made an illustrious career in Walmart. Starting his journey at the distribution center (to put it plainly, in a warehouse), during 25 years he climbed the career ladder to become #5 CEO in the biggest company in the world. However, right now Doug is facing a difficult challenge: to keep the financial performance of the company at a high level in the era of transition from a traditional retail company into a business that will meet the new requirements of the online-world.

What qualities does Doug consider essential for any successful leader? Vision for the future, knowledge of your own business, curiosity (it was extremely pleasant to hear him mention this quality
– as I often speak about the role of curiosity in my career, and, as we can see, for a good reason), passion and stamina. Did you memorize them all? Well, if you do feel that you are currently lacking
some of them, quite soon I will share with you the list of the books recommended to me by my mentors during the past 10 days – these books will contain the tips how to develop the best qualities
in yourself. While I was working on this article, the skies started pouring with rain – the weather here is extremely unpredictable. I hope, though, that my flight to New York that is scheduled for tomorrow will be delay-free – as I still have got an entire week in front of me. An eventful day in Jet.com office, a weekend in a magical city New York and three days of lectures will round up my program in America.