U.S. markets closed
  • S&P 500

    3,699.12
    +32.40 (+0.88%)
     
  • Dow 30

    30,218.26
    +248.74 (+0.83%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    12,464.23
    +87.05 (+0.70%)
     
  • Russell 2000

    1,892.45
    +43.75 (+2.37%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    46.09
    +0.45 (+0.99%)
     
  • Gold

    1,842.00
    +0.90 (+0.05%)
     
  • Silver

    24.32
    +0.18 (+0.76%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.2127
    -0.0022 (-0.18%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    0.9690
    +0.0490 (+5.33%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3438
    -0.0015 (-0.11%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    104.1400
    +0.2800 (+0.27%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    18,793.82
    -28.19 (-0.15%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    365.19
    -14.05 (-3.71%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    6,550.23
    +59.96 (+0.92%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    26,751.24
    -58.13 (-0.22%)
     

Walmart CEO: Coronavirus pandemic taught me courage and speed

Brian Sozzi
·Editor-at-Large
·3 min read

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon hasn’t had too much time to reflect on what leadership lessons he has learned managing through the once-in-a-lifetime COVID-19 pandemic.

Can you blame him?

McMillon — who is coming up on his seventh year as CEO in February 2021 — sits atop the world’s largest retailer, which so happens to be the country’s largest private employer. It’s McMillon’s vast network of super centers and e-commerce operation that have been mission critical in supplying shoppers with vital goods during the pandemic. What was an already around the clock retail business has only become more intense both for Walmart store workers and the company’s executive leaders.

But in chatting with McMillon at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on Monday, it’s clear the top dog at Walmart has thought about his learnings a little bit.

The major lesson: move faster.

“I bet it [the pandemic] has changed everybody in some way. When I think about what I have learned, the two words that come to the top of the list for me are courage and speed. What I have seen from associates and our leadership team related to those two things has been super impressive,” said McMillon.

Added McMillon, “I think I have learned even more to let people move quickly, think big and not let bureaucracy slow us down. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Get on with the things that are most important. I think we have moved faster as a result, and that has changed me as a leader.”

Vice President Mike Pence, right, walks with Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon, as they tour a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Vice President Mike Pence, right, walks with Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon, as they tour a Walmart Distribution Center Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Gordonsville, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Signs of McMillon’s agility throughout the pandemic are front and center.

Walmart handed out a raise to 165,000 U.S. workers earlier this month. It brought the starting minimum wage for hourly workers to $15 an hour. The effort comes on the heels of a June initiative to expand access to low cost college for employees with a focus on tech degrees. That same month, Walmart said it would set aside $100 million to fund a new center on racial equality.

And, the company has also made a play to acquire a 7.5% stake in TikTok with tech giant Oracle. TikTok will help Walmart create the marketplace of the future, McMillon said.

Walmart’s efforts bore fruit in impressive second and third quarters, notably in its online business. Shares of Dow component Walmart have gained 20% year to date according to Yahoo Finance Premium data. That is better than the 7% gain for the S&P 500, and 3% drop in the Dow.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

More on Walmart CEO Doug McMillon from the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit:

Watch Yahoo Finance’s live programming on Verizon FIOS channel 604, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Samsung TV, Pluto TV, and YouTube. Online catch Yahoo Finance on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flipboard, SmartNews, LinkedIn, and reddit.