Yesterday, Bob McDonald, former manufacturing company CEO, was nominated for the position of Secretary of Veteran Affairs. This position is a member of the Cabinet and is the head of a 300,000 employee organization, responsible for providing healthcare and other benefits to United States veterans.
At first glance, many found McDonald to be an odd choice. Most of the other candidates that were considered for the position were former military generals or had years of experience working in healthcare. So, why did the President choose someone from the manufacturing industry?
Well for starters, McDonald actually does have military experience. He is a West Point graduate and served 5 years in the United States Army. He has maintained his ties to the military over the years through the West Point Association of Graduates, the U.S. Army Ranger Association, the 75th Ranger Regiment Association and other affiliations. However, in the ensuing 30+ years, McDonald has been busy working his way up the ladder at Procter & Gamble, one of the oldest, largest, and most well-known manufacturing companies in America.
From the Tide Brand Manager to the CEO, McDonald truly made his mark at P&G. Those involved with the company during McDonald’s leadership have not been surprised by the nomination. They watched him navigate a company of 120,000 employees through tough economic times and manage to somehow raise the stock price of the company from $51.10 to $81.64 during his time as CEO. He did this through strategic adjustments to product lines, improved efficiency of internal operations, and by encouraging a culture of leadership throughout the organization. In fact, in recent years P&G has been named the “Best Company for Leaders” by Chief Executive Magazine twice, due in part to McDonald’s efforts. So, what does this have to do with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs? Everything.
Over the past few months, rumors have been swirling around the state of the agency after the resignation of the former Secretary, Eric Shinseki. Just last week, the White House issued a report calling for a complete overhaul of the current VA system. Thousands of veterans have waited months to receive care, some never being scheduled or even placed on a waiting list. Investigators have attributed much of the failure of this organization to what they are calling a “corrosive culture.” They are still determining the level of deception carried out by many different leaders within the organization, but the House and Senate are already proposing legislation making it easier to remove ineffective VA leadership in the future.
As you can imagine, even once McDonald is confirmed, he will still be under intense scrutiny as he works to fix the many, many issues that have piled up over the years. Many believe that his eventual success will lie in his experience leading a customer driven company. He was successful in achieving high levels of customer satisfaction at P&G, which is not easy when managing a company with more than 5 billion customers. He has been asked to face this challenge head on with the hope that finally our Veterans will receive the respect and care that they deserve.
So, who knows where a career in manufacturing can ultimately lead you? Bob McDonald probably never imagined becoming a Cabinet member when he signed on to work for a company that makes laundry detergent! It just goes to show that the best way to get the job you want is to work hard at the job you have.
Washington Post Article: Bob McDonald, Former P&G Chief to be Obama's Nominee to lead Veterans Affairs
CNN Video: VA Nomination Bob McDonald
P&G Executive Bio: Bob McDonald