From Intern to Exec: Rollin Ford’s Journey

From Intern to Exec: Rollin Ford’s Inspirational Journey

Every summer, the Walmart Home Office buzzes with new energy that the interns bring with them. Last month–just when our new interns were coming on board–I had an opportunity to meet with a person who started his Walmart journey as an intern. During his 33-year career, Rollin Ford, our Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer's was huge inspiration to so many associates.

On the day of the scheduled meeting, I was nervously waiting outside Rollin’s office, meticulously planning the questions I was going to ask him. Suddenly the door to his office opened and as he wrapped his previous meeting, he gestured me to join him in his office. After a brief exchange of hello's, he shared graciously his story.

Rollin started his journey with Walmart as an intern back in 1983. As part of his internship, he was required to deliver his final project to none other than Sam Walton, who graciously told Rollin, “When you graduate, feel free to give me a call and I bet we can give you a job at Walmart.” Rollin joined Walmart as an associate in Logistics on July 31, 1984 and worked on the distribution center floor. He started loading trucks, worked his way up to area manager, regional manager and so on, helping build one of the most impressive Logistics infrastructures in the world. In 2007, Rollin became the Chief Information Officer, and for the past five years he has served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer.

Rollin believes in servant leadership and had the privilege to work with and learn from Sam Walton. Rollin shared so many stories with me during my meeting and also with many associates throughout his career to help keep the culture alive (and keep Sam Walton's values fresh in our hearts and minds). Rollin has said on many occasions that Walmart’s culture is not a museum, it’s a living organism. Our leaders and our associates follow the culture every day. Culture is about the precious present, it is about the NOW, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep it that way.

Rollin is going to retire in July and there is no doubt we will miss him, but we will ensure his legacy and the Walmart culture are kept alive and well.

About the Author

Shilpa Penkar is a Systems Analyst on Walmart’s Cloud Enablement Operations team. She’s a passionate member of Walmart’s Asian-Pacific Resource Network (APAN), and a regular contributor to the Walmart Careers blog.

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