Walmart CEO
(Photo: dougmcmillon/ Instagram)

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has had to work his way up through the ranks at the American retail corporation since he first began working there in the summer of 1984.

At the age of 18, Doug McMillon started his journey at Walmart, unloading company trucks at a distribution centre in Arkansas, earning a modest $6.50 an hour. Despite the humble beginnings, he persevered, earning a bachelor's degree at the University of Arkansas and eventually taking over Walmart's Sam's Club and the retailer's international division.

In 2014, he became Walmart CEO and now earns a salary worth more than $25 million a year. His job is among the most demanding in the global retail industry as he is responsible for the direction of just over two million employees and more than 10,000 stores.

His leadership has not only led to the company's financial success but also to the development and growth of its employees, a testament to his commitment to their professional growth and well-being.

Under the guidance of Doug McMillon, Walmart has experienced remarkable success. The company's annual revenue figures have soared to $648 billion, marking a 6.3 per cent year-over-year increase. The retailer has also made significant strides in e-commerce, with worldwide e-commerce sales surpassing $100 billion last year.

Last year, it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that McMillon plans on remaining in his role as CEO until 2026, giving the retailer enough time to find a worthy successor.

The 57-year-old's inspiring climb to the corporate ladder has left many other Walmart employees wondering how this can be replicated.

During a conversation on the Stratechery Podcast, Doug McMillon shared three invaluable pieces of advice that have guided his four-decade-long journey. These insights can serve as a compass for anyone seeking to advance in their career.

Doug McMillon's journey from truck unloader to CEO at Walmart has led to other workers seeking out his advice. Nicholas Kamm/AFP

Focus on Your Current Job

The Walmart CEO believes it is crucial to focus all your energy on the job you are asked to do and make the most out of it. He suggests that looking too far ahead can be distracting, as not doing your current job to a high standard will prevent you from moving up to another position. This advice is particularly relevant in a fast-paced corporate environment like Walmart, where every role, no matter how small, contributes to the overall success of the company.

McMillon had firsthand experience with this during his early days with Walmart as he requested that he be moved to another division focusing on shifting retail into the digital age. This plea was rejected as he was told he had much more to learn about retail. McMillon obliged and eventually reaped the benefits.

Be Helpful

According to Walmart's CEO, staff must help other workers and be supportive colleagues; this can help with developing leadership skills as you get used to having an influence on others around you in the workplace.

Helping others can also benefit company productivity, as you never know when demand could rise due to unforeseen circumstances. McMillon revealed that something of this occurred with the company during a crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic four years ago, when the company had to cope with a more significant number of online orders.

A Walmart store manager in Dakota chose to hire 40 new employees who had just lost jobs in the food industry. This decision was a prime example of seeking out opportunities, as it turned out that these extra workers were required because the organisation had to cope with a more significant number of online orders. This instance highlights the importance of being proactive and anticipating the needs of the business.

Seek Out Opportunities

McMillon's final advice to workers looking to climb the ranks is to put yourself forward and volunteer in situations where you could be helpful. He would voluntarily fill in for his bosses at meetings when they were out of town.

Here, he would share information and look for answers as quickly as possible if he was unaware of what was being discussed.

Due to this experience of dealing with other responsibilities multiple times, the retailer was confident in promoting him. They did not deem it a high risk as he had already displayed his qualities as a volunteer. This instance underscores the value of taking initiative and seeking out opportunities for growth, as it can lead to recognition and advancement in one's career.