Robert A. McDonald

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Robert A. McDonald
Robert A. McDonald Official Portrait.jpg
8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Assumed office
July 30, 2014
President Barack Obama
Deputy Sloan Gibson
Preceded by Sloan Gibson (Acting)
Personal details
Born Robert Alan McDonald
(1953-06-20) June 20, 1953 (age 61)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Diane McDonald
Children Jennifer
Alma mater U.S. Military Academy
University of Utah
Awards Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab
Military service
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1975–1980
Rank US-O3 insignia.svg Captain

Robert Alan McDonald (born June 20, 1953) is the 8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is the retired Chairman, President, and CEO of Procter & Gamble.[1]

On July 29, 2014, the U.S. Senate voted 97-0 to confirm McDonald as President Barack Obama's choice to succeed General Eric Shinseki as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and on July 30, 2014 he was sworn into office.[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

McDonald was born on June 20, 1953 in Gary, Indiana, and grew up in Chicago.[4] He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. At West Point he served as the Brigade Adjutant for the Corps of Cadets and was awarded the Silver Medal from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce. After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for 5 years, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division, attaining the rank of Captain, and earned an MBA from the University of Utah in 1978. Upon leaving the military he received the Meritorious Service Medal.[5]


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid meets with Veterans Affairs nominee Robert McDonald on July 16, 2014

McDonald joined Procter & Gamble in 1980.[6] He served as a brand manager for Tide from 1984-1986. In 1989 he transferred to Toronto to lead P&G's Canadian Laundry business, and moved to the Philippines as General Manager in 1991. In 1995 he became Vice President, Laundry & Cleaning Products Asia, and relocated to Japan. A year later in 1996, McDonald became President, Japan Operations, and in 1999, President, Northeast Asia. Two years later he moved to Brussels as President, Global Fabric Care and later President, Global Fabric & Home Care. He was appointed Vice Chairman, Global Operations in 2004 and appointed Chief Operating Officer in July 2007. McDonald became President and Chief Executive on July 1, 2009.[7] He assumed the Chairman of the Board role January 1, 2010. He retired from P&G on June 30, 2013.[8]

Under McDonald's leadership, P&G grew organic sales by an average of about three percent per year with core earnings per share up an average of about four percent. P&G’s stock price rose from $51.10 the day he became CEO to $78.80 per share the day he announced his retirement – over a fifty percent increase. The company's market capitalization puts it among the top fifteen most valuable companies in the world. P&G also made significant strategic adjustments to its product portfolio. The Company acquired Ambi Pur and formed a joint venture with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which will enable P&G to expand its Consumer Health Care business. P&G also divested its remaining food business, Pringles, exited the pharmaceutical business, increased its focus on discontinuous innovation through the establishment of transformational platform technologies and a new business creation group, and initiated a five-year, $10 billion productivity program.[9]

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs[edit]

On June 29, 2014, it was widely reported that U.S. President Obama would nominate McDonald to fill the Cabinet position of United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. On July 7, 2014, Obama formally nominated McDonald to the post.[10] On July 23, 2014, the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs voted unanimously to forward McDonald's nomination to the full Senate.[11] On July 29, 2014, the Senate confirmed McDonald in a 97-0 vote.[3]

McDonald succeeded Eric Shinseki, who resigned on May 30, 2014, due to the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014.[12]

In his first remarks to veterans' groups since taking over, McDonald said that he viewed the VA overhaul, supported by a $16.3 billion law signed by President Obama in August 2014, to be an opportunity that couldn't be missed. He promised to do everything he could to improve care for the nation's veterans.[13]


On a February 15, 2015 airing of Meet the Press, McDonald stated that 60 Veterans Affairs employees had been fired because of the VA's wait time scandal. Later, he backtracked and clarified it was only eight employees that lost their jobs.[14]

On February 23, 2015, McDonald admitted he misspoke to a homeless veteran on January 30, 2015 about his serving in the U.S. Army Special Forces, a conversation that was recorded by a CBS television news crew accompanying him during a nationwide count of homeless veterans. "I have no excuse, I was not in the special forces" he told The Huffington Post, which first broke the story.[14] The Huffington Post reported that "special operations forces" includes the Army Rangers and that McDonald

completed Army Ranger training and took courses in jungle, arctic and desert warfare. He qualified as a senior parachutist and airborne jumpmaster, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division until he resigned his commission in 1980. While he earned a Ranger tab designating him as a graduate of Ranger School, he never served in a Ranger battalion or any other special operations unit.[14]

Personal life[edit]

In 2007, McDonald received the inaugural Leadership Excellence Award from the U.S. Naval Academy and Harvard Business Review. He serves on the Board of Directors of Xerox, the McKinsey Advisory Council, and the Singapore International Advisory Council of the Economic Development Board.


  1. ^ "Bob McDonald Biography". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Obama selects former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald to head Veterans Affairs". 
  3. ^ a b Profile,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  4. ^ Pace, Julie. "Obama picks former Procter & Gamble head Robert McDonald to lead Veterans Affairs". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  5. ^ "Bennet Joins Senate to Confirm New VA Secretary". Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Bob McDonald Biography". 
  7. ^ Reingold, Jennifer (February 25, 2013). "Can P&G's CEO Hang On?". Fortune 167 (3): 66–75. 
  8. ^ "Robert A. McDonald retiring from P&G". May 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ "P&G 2012 Annual Report". Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  10. ^ McDonald nominated as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  11. ^ Senate committee unanimously supports McDonald confirmation as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  12. ^ Nelson, Colleen McCain; Ng, Serena. "Former Procter & Gamble CEO Tapped as New VA Secretary". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2014. 
  13. ^ Associated Press. "New VA chief touts improvements". Politico. Retrieved August 10, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b c Marine Corps Times. "VA Secretary Robert McDonald:'I will do better'". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Sloan Gibson
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Arne Duncan
as Secretary of Education
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Jeh Johnson
as Secretary of Homeland Security
United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Arne Duncan
as Secretary of Education
16th in line
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
Jeh Johnson
as Secretary of Homeland Security