Bob McDonald (businessman)

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Bob McDonald
McDonald in 2014
8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
In office
July 30, 2014 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
DeputySloan Gibson
Preceded byEric Shinseki
Succeeded byDavid Shulkin
Personal details
Robert Alan McDonald

(1953-06-20) June 20, 1953 (age 70)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
SpouseDiane McDonald
EducationUnited States Military Academy (BS)
University of Utah (MBA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1975–1980
Rank Captain
AwardsMeritorious Service Medal[1]

Robert Alan McDonald (born June 20, 1953) served as the eighth United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is the retired chairman, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble.[2] In 2014 he became Secretary of Veterans Affairs.[3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

McDonald was born on June 20, 1953, in Gary, Indiana, and grew up in Chicago.[5] He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1975 in the top 2% of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering.[6][7] 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.[7][8] After graduation, he served in the U.S. Army for five years, primarily in the 82nd Airborne Division, attaining the rank of captain,[6] and earned an MBA from the University of Utah in 1978.[9] Upon leaving the military he received the Meritorious Service Medal.[10]


McDonald joined Procter & Gamble in 1980[11] and worked in various roles before becoming president and Chief Executive in 2009.[12] He assumed the Chairman of the Board role 2010. As chief executive officer, McDonald oversaw a $10 billion restructuring plan.[13][14][15]

Amid the 2008 economic downturn, investors criticized McDonald for being too loyal to P&G traditions, too slow to pursue layoffs and other cuts, and unable to produce new product innovations, particularly compared to his predecessor and replacement A.G. Lafley.[16] He resigned from P&G in 2013 following pressure from the company board and activist investors such as Bill Ackman; he was replaced by his predecessor A.G. Lafley, who returned from retirement.[17][18][19]

In 2014 McDonald led a community-based task force to help the city of Cincinnati renovate its Museum Center, which succeeded when Hamilton County passed a tax levy to fund the initiative.[20][21]

U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs[edit]

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

McDonald succeeded Eric Shinseki, who resigned in 2014, due to the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014.[22]

In 2014, U.S. President Obama nominated McDonald to the Cabinet position of United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs.[23]

Obama cited McDonald's business background with P&G and experience revitalizing organizations in his decision.[24] McDonald was approved by the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the full Senate by unanimous vote.[25][4]

McDonald recruited new medical personnel in the early months of his tenure at VA. As of June 2015, VA had increased onboard staff.[26]

McDonald in 2019.

McDonald opposed privatization of the VA. Donald Trump replaced him with David Shulkin, who also opposed privatization, and was also replaced.[27]

In 2015, McDonald admitted he misspoke trying to engage a homeless veteran 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.[28] 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."[28]

Board work[edit]

McDonald is on the boards of RallyPoint Networks[29] and serves on the Board of Directors of Partnership for Public Service,[30] Audia International,[31] the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy, the Boulder Crest Retreat Foundation,[32] and the McCormick Research Institute.


McDonald and his wife, Diane, founded the McDonald Conference for Leaders of Character.[33]

Personal life[edit]

In July 2020, McDonald was appointed by the George W. Bush Institute as the April and Jay Graham Fellow where he serves as a member of the Military Service Initiative team.[34] In September 2020, McDonald was selected by presidential nominee Joe Biden to be a member of his transition team's advisory board.[35]

McDonald donated a statue of General Ulysses S. Grant that was unveiled on April 25, 2019, on The Plain at West Point.[36]

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,[37] the McKinsey Advisory Council,[38] and the Singapore International Advisory Council of the Economic Development Board.[39]

McDonald and his wife, Diane, have two children.[20]


  1. ^ Holland, Steve (June 29, 2014). "Obama to nominate former P&G CEO Bob McDonald as veterans secretary". Reuters. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  2. ^ "Bob McDonald Biography". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  3. ^ "Obama selects former Procter and Gamble executive Robert McDonald to head Veterans Affairs".
  4. ^ a b Profile,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  5. ^ Pace, Julie. "Obama picks former Procter & Gamble head Robert McDonald to lead Veterans Affairs". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Eilperin, Juliet (June 29, 2014). "Bob McDonald, former P&G chief, to be Obama's nominee to lead Veterans Affairs". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "Member Profile: Robert A. McDonald". Horatio Alger Association. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  8. ^ Alexander, Antoine (June 30, 2014). "Reports: Former P&G chief Robert McDonald to lead Veterans Affairs". Drug Store News. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  9. ^ "University of Utah grad has ambitious plans as new CEO of P&G". Desert News (Associated Press). June 11, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "Bennet Joins Senate to Confirm New VA Secretary". Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Bob McDonald Biography". Archived from the original on May 11, 2013. Retrieved July 19, 2010.
  12. ^ Reingold, Jennifer (February 25, 2013). "Can P&G's CEO Hang On?". Fortune. 167 (3): 66–75.
  13. ^ "UPDATE 4-P&G posts solid quarter, gives CEO more breathing room". January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  14. ^ "Procter & Gamble to unveil restructuring plan this year". Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  15. ^ Edwards, Jim. "P&G CEO Bob McDonald Steps Down After Pressure From Bill Ackman, Activist Investor". Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  16. ^ Oppel, Richard A. Jr. (June 30, 2014). "V.A. Nominee McDonald Faced Criticism at Procter & Gamble". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  17. ^ Isidore, Chris. "Ackman wins, P&G dumps CEO". CNNMoney. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  18. ^ "Return of P&G's former CEO puts his reputation at stake | Seattle Times Newspaper". Retrieved October 23, 2017.
  19. ^ "Robert A. McDonald retiring from P&G". Reuters. May 23, 2013. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved July 1, 2017.
  20. ^ a b The Enquirer. "Bob McDonald ready for next act". The Enquirer. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  21. ^ The News Record (November 5, 2014). "Union terminal levy passes". The News Record. Retrieved July 16, 2019.
  22. ^ Nelson, Colleen McCain; Ng, Serena (June 30, 2014). "Former Procter & Gamble CEO Tapped as New VA Secretary". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 1, 2014.
  23. ^ McDonald nominated as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  24. ^ "Remarks by the President at Nomination of Robert McDonald as Secretary of Veterans Affairs". June 30, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2016 – via National Archives.
  25. ^ Senate committee unanimously supports McDonald confirmation as Secretary of Veterans Affairs,; accessed February 24, 2015.
  26. ^ "VA Making Progress to Improve Service for Veterans" (PDF). Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  27. ^ Jackson withdraws from nomination for VA Secretary. Interview with Robert McDonald, former secretary. By Rachel Maddow. The Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC. April 26, 2018
  28. ^ a b Huffington Post (February 24, 2015). "VA Secretary Robert McDonald Falsely Claimed He Served In Special Forces". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
  29. ^ "Bob McDonald, Former VA Secretary and P&G CEO, Joins RallyPoint Board of Directors". Globe Newswire (Press release). July 24, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  30. ^ "'Secretary Bob' joins Partnership for Public Service board". Federal Times. June 20, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  31. ^ "Quotient Technology Names Robert McDonald to Board of Directors". BusinessWire (Press release). November 26, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  32. ^ "Bob McDonald, Former VA Secretary and P&G CEO, Joins Boulder Crest". News Wire (Press release). Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  33. ^ "Spotlight on Leaders". NY Times Education. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  34. ^ George W. Bush Presidential Center. "Bush Institute Announces Endowed Fellows to Advance Mission and Broaden Expertise". Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  35. ^ "Biden expands transition team, adding key campaign allies and top Obama-Biden policy hands". CNN. September 5, 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2020.
  36. ^ RecordOnline. "West Point unveils statue of Grant". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  37. ^ "Robert McDonald, Director since: 2005".
  38. ^ "Bob McDonald - Thayer Development Group".
  39. ^ "International Advisory Council".

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas Former US Cabinet Member Order of precedence of the United States
as Former US Cabinet Member
Succeeded byas Former US Cabinet Member