Business Leaders: Walmart’s Mike Duke

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Name: Michael Terry Duke
Born:
Dec. 7, 1949
Company: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)
Position: President and CEO
Previous role: Vice chairman
Education: Bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology (1971)
Quote: "The economic crisis has caused some changes in the way the consumer shops. And frankly I think, again, it's to our benefit."

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On an average day, Wal-Mart Stores President and CEO Mike Duke reportedly wakes up between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m., and commutes seven minutes to the corporation's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. During these early hours, he also cleans out his email inbox because he doesn't like having email -- a tough task for the CEO of one of the world's biggest companies.

Ever since Duke became CEO in 2009, the corporation has been like his inbox. Not one to procrastinate, he's been quick to get things done, from revamping stores to retooling the company's product selection.

The son of a truck driver and a stay-at-home mother, Duke was raised in Fayette County, Ga. He went to university at the Georgia Institute of Technology and received an engineering degree. After graduating in 1971, Duke took a job at discount chain Richway's, which was eventually bought by Federated Department Stores (now Macy's Inc.).

In 1995, Walmart recruited Duke to continue logistics work at the company's Bentonville headquarters. In coming years, Duke gained new experiences and skills at the company, becoming head of U.S. stores in 2003.

Two years later, Duke was named vice chairman and head of the corporation's international unit, and soon after that, he closed Walmart's German division, which had been a thorn in Walmart's side for years. (Walmart had been investing in Germany for years with little to show for it.) By doing so, Duke cut the company's losses and increased international sales.

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Later, he became CEO during one of the company's toughest environments for retail. Although many consumers were attracted to Walmart during the recession, given the company's focus on value, many Americans still curbed their spending.

Shortly before Duke became Walmart's fourth CEO in early 2009, Walmart announced Project Impact. This project entailed revamping the stores, giving them a fresh and attractive appearance. The company also cut back on the number of items sold to remove the store's clutter, but customers were unhappy with the changes, and sales declined sharply. A month after becoming CEO, Duke began reintroducing the products that Walmart abandoned, rectifying the problem immediately.

Duke also launched the Sustainable Product Index (embracing green business) and pledged $2 billion to alleviate hunger in America. Duke also launched the President's Global Council of Women's Leaders.

Duke's total compensation for 2011 was $18.1 million dollars. This includes his $1.3 million salary, $13.1 million restricted stock awards and other compensation of $377,258 -- down 21 percent from the previous year. The perks included $99,861 for the use of the company aircraft.

Duke is a National Academy of Engineering member. He is also on the board of directors of Walmart Stores Inc. and The Consumer Goods Forum. He serves on the executive board of Conservation International's Center for Environment Leadership in Business and the executive committee of Business Roundtable. He is on the board of advisers for the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing and the University of Arkansas.

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