The following are prepared remarks for Greg Penner, Chairman of the Walmart Board of Directors, at the 2019 Walmart Associate and Shareholders Meeting on June 7, 2019.
Good morning! It’s my honor, as your chairman, to welcome you to the 49th annual Walmart Associate and Shareholders Meeting!
What an incredible year we’ve had at Walmart. Sales are strong. We're growing rapidly in new areas. And our shareholders are being rewarded with a rising stock price. I'm as excited about Walmart's future as I've ever been!
For me, this event is always a reminder of just how right Sam was about the most important part of our company. It’s why I chose to wear this pin today. It’s the one that Sam always wore out in the stores. “Our people make the difference.” Thank you, Walmart Associates!
Since I first stood on this stage as your chairman, I’ve talked about the importance of taking risks. Last year, as Jennifer mentioned, I spoke about taking some of my own risks and climbing Mount Everest. This year, I didn’t do anything so dramatic to make my point and that includes kayaking.
But at Walmart, we’re still taking bold risks. We’re changing quickly to be able to serve our customers in new ways. And we’re better positioned where it matters most. What’s interesting is that leaders outside our company are taking notice.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has led one of the great transformations in recent history, said this about our omni channel experience: “I think the Walmart story, as I think about it, it’s the innovation that you are going to bring grounded in what uniquely only Walmart can do.”
Former Ohio Governor John Kasich said this about a Walmart Academy graduation: “This unbelievable story about Walmart University and the guy that walked across the stage, never even graduated from high school, his family is there all wearing suits and standing up and they’re cheering. That was a great thing.”
One member of the investor community said this about our recent business performance: “I’ve covered the company for a long time, and I don’t recall a period when it has been running this well given what’s happening in retail.”
For our company, it’s no longer a question of whether we need to transform. We’ve moved beyond that. Our success will be determined by the risks we take, the changes we make, and how we manage this transformation.
I’m confident in our future because of our people. That’s true at every level, including our leaders. In my over 20 years serving on company boards, and 11 years on the Walmart board, I’ve never seen a stronger senior management team than this one. We’re really fortunate to have them, and the entire Board feels this way.
The other day, I came across an interesting memo written by one of our leaders, and I want to share a few excerpts with you:
Retailing always changes. That change is driven by the customer and fueled by ingenuity. Retailers come and go.
The technology exists: Information SuperHighway, Virtual Reality, 3-D Television, Cable-TV System
Our customer… wants to be able to shop conveniently, save money, and trust the company that gets their money
Shopping primarily for convenience. This will be done electronically and interactively. Home delivery will have to play a part. It’s easy.
Electronic retailing can tailor an assortment to a particular individual. Information is the key. This could potentially be our most important asset.
It’s amazing how much this memo gets right about where we are today and how we are looking at the future. What’s really amazing is that it was written by our President and CEO, Doug McMillon, 25 years ago!
I’ll say it again: we have great leaders who are uniquely positioned to lead us at this moment. I am optimistic about Walmart’s future because of them, because of all of you, our associates. On behalf of the Board and our family, thank you.
Now I’d like to take a moment to introduce your Board of Directors. I’d like to ask each board member to stand when I call their name. Please hold your applause to the end.
- Audit Committee Chair, retired KPMG Chairman and CEO, Tim Flynn;
- Morgan Stanley Vice Chairman of Wealth Management, Carla Harris;
- McDonalds President and CEO, Steve Easterbrook;
- Former American Airlines Chairman and CEO, Lead Independent Director, and Nominating and Governance Committee Chair, Tom Horton;
- Former Yahoo President and CEO and now the co-founder of Lumi Labs, Marissa Mayer;
- Walmart President and CEO and visionary memo writer, Doug McMillon;
- Strategic Planning and Finance Committee Chair and Nextdoor CEO, Sarah Friar;
- Compensation, Management and Development Committee Chair and former PepsiCo Chairman and CEO, Steve Reinemund;
- Technology and eCommerce Committee Chair and RZC Investments Founder and Chairman, Steuart Walton;
- And, of course, my predecessor as Chairman of the Board of Directors, Rob Walton.
Thank you all for your willingness to continue to serve. Please be seated.
I’m also excited to introduce one new independent member of the Board, Cesar Conde. Cesar is the Chairman of NBCUniversal International Enterprises and NBCUniversal Telemundo Group. We’re incredibly fortunate to have him as part of our company and we value the contributions he’s already making. Thank you, Cesar.
Now I have one more piece of business to take care of before we proceed. On Wednesday, we held a formal meeting where we heard proposals and cast votes. The preliminary voting results were included in a press release that is now available on our corporate website. Let me share those with you.
- All 12 director nominees were elected;
- The non-binding, advisory resolution regarding our executive compensation was approved;
- The proposal ratifying the appointment of Ernst & Young as our independent accountants was approved;
- And each of the shareholder proposals presented failed to receive a majority vote.
The official voting results will be disclosed next week in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Now let’s get on with the meeting. Thank you!