Robert A. McDonald
|8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs|
July 30, 2014 – January 20, 2017
|Preceded by||Eric Shinseki|
|Succeeded by||David Shulkin|
|Born||Robert Alan McDonald
June 20, 1953
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
|Education||United States Military Academy (BS)
University of Utah (MBA)
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1975–1980|
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.
Early life and education
McDonald was born on June 20, 1953 in Gary, Indiana, and grew up in Chicago. 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.
McDonald joined Procter & Gamble in 1980. 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. He assumed the Chairman of the Board role January 1, 2010. He retired from P&G on June 30, 2013.
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 to $78.80 during his tenure as CEO – 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.
U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
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.
On June 30, 2014, President Obama announced his nomination for the eighth Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert A. McDonald, former CEO of Procter & Gamble. President Obama cited McDonald’s business background and experience revitalizing organizations in his decision. Obama said, “[W]hat especially makes Bob the right choice to lead the VA now is his three decades of experience in building and managing one of the world’s most recognized companies, Procter & Gamble. The VA is not a business, but it is one of our largest departments . . . . And the workload at the VHA alone is enormous . . . .” Obama added, “Bob is an expert at making organizations better. In his career he’s taken over struggling business units. . . . putting an end to what doesn’t work; adopting the best practices that do; restructuring, introducing innovations, making operations more efficient and effective. In short, he’s about delivering better results.”
On July 23, 2014, the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs voted unanimously to forward McDonald's nomination to the full Senate. On July 29, 2014, the Senate confirmed McDonald in a 97-0 vote.
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. Under McDonald's leadership and his Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson, VA has charted a path forward that has made significant progress to enhance its health care system, improve service delivery and set the course for long-term reform. As Secretary McDonald wrote in the Baltimore Sun, “Veterans need VA and many more Americans benefit from VA.”
One of McDonald's first decisions in September 2014 was to increase salaries for physicians and dentists to close the pay gap with the private sector and to make VA an employer of choice. McDonald personally visited several medical schools to recruit new medical personnel in the early months of his tenure at VA. As of June 2015, VA had increased onboard staff by more 12,000 including over 1,000 physicians, 2,700 nurses, and 4,600 other select critical occupations.
In November 2014, McDonald outlined plans to reorganize the department for success, guided by ideas and initiatives from veterans, employees, and all of our shareholders. This reorganization is a part of the MyVA initiative and is designed to provide Veterans with a seamless, integrated, and responsive customer service experience. The Department developed the Blue Print for Excellence – a detailed vision of how VA will evolve as a model national health care provider delivering both excellent health care and an excellent experience of care to all Veterans served. Under MyVA, the department has created a single regional framework to enhance services. In March, VA established the MyVA Advisory Committee, made up of skilled experts from the private, non-profit and government sectors that advise the Secretary with a focus on improving customer service, Veteran outcomes and setting the course for long-term reform and excellence.
On January 28, 2015, Secretary McDonald and attorneys representing homeless veterans in Los Angeles announced a historic agreement that dedicates the West Los Angeles VA campus to serving veterans in need. VA published a written Veteran homelessness strategy and action plan for Greater Los Angeles on February 13, 2015 with the goal of ending Veteran homelessness in Greater Los Angeles by the end of the year.
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.
On February 23, 2015, McDonald admitted he misspoke trying to engage 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. 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."
On May 23, 2016, Secretary McDonald stated that Disney does not measure wait times at its amusement parks, arguing that VA wait times are not an important measure. This statement was viewed as both insensitive to patients and incorrect, as Disney does measure wait times. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan criticized McDonald's comments on Twitter and in a blog post, saying, "This is not make-believe, Mr. Secretary. Veterans have died waiting in those lines." He apologized the next day. 
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. McDonald has a son and a daughter, Rob and Jennifer. Jennifer currently works for American Express, and Rob is employed as a lawyer.
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- "Obama selects former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald to head Veterans Affairs".
- Profile, periodicalpress.senate.gov; accessed February 24, 2015.
- Pace, Julie. "Obama picks former Procter & Gamble head Robert McDonald to lead Veterans Affairs". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
- "Bennet Joins Senate to Confirm New VA Secretary". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Bob McDonald Biography".
- Reingold, Jennifer (February 25, 2013). "Can P&G's CEO Hang On?". Fortune. 167 (3): 66–75.
- "Robert A. McDonald retiring from P&G". May 23, 2013.
- "P&G 2012 Annual Report". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Nelson, Colleen McCain; Ng, Serena. "Former Procter & Gamble CEO Tapped as New VA Secretary". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
- McDonald nominated as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, whitehouse.gov; accessed February 24, 2015.
- "Remarks by the President at Nomination of Robert McDonald as Secretary of Veterans Affairs". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-31.
- Senate committee unanimously supports McDonald confirmation as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, veterans.senate.gov; accessed February 24, 2015.
- Associated Press. "New VA chief touts improvements". www.politico.com. Politico. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- Marine Corps Times. "VA Secretary Robert McDonald:'I will do better'". www.marinecorpstimes.com. Marine Corps Times. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Huffington Post. "VA Secretary Robert McDonald Falsely Claimed He Served In Special Forces". www.huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Washington Post. "Disney Remark". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
- "Diane McDonald: VA Secretary Robert McDonald's Wife (bio, wiki, photos)". Dailyentertainmentnews.com. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
|United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs