Bob McDonald (businessman)
|8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs|
July 30, 2014 – January 20, 2017
|Preceded by||Eric Shinseki|
|Succeeded by||David Shulkin|
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 five 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 resigned from P&G on June 30, 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.
Under McDonald's leadership, P&G grew organic sales by an average of about 3% per year with core earnings per share up an average of about 4%. However, sales growth trailed competitors such as Unilever, which grew at sales at 8.7% per year from 2010 to 2013. P&G's stock price rose from $51.10 to $78.80 during his tenure as CEO – a 50% increase, trailing the 80% in the S&P 500 in the same period. During his tenure, investors criticized McDonald for being too loyal to P&G traditions, being too slow to pursue layoffs and other cuts, and being unable to produce new product innovations, particularly compared to his predecessor and replacement A.G. Lafley. 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
Obama cited McDonald's business background with P&G 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."
McDonald was approved by the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs and the full Senate by unanimous vote.
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.
McDonald opposed privatization of the VA. "I`ve never met a veteran who wants to privatize the VA," McDonald said. Privatization advocates usually have a stake in privatization, he said. The private sector couldn't absorb the 9 million veterans, with all their comorbidities, in the VA system. The VA trains 70% of the doctors in the country, and has relationships with 1,800 medical schools. Veteran's groups wanted McDonald to stay, but after a long delay, president Donald Trump replaced him with David Shulkin, who also opposed privatization, and was also replaced.
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 two children.
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- Reingold, Jennifer (February 25, 2013). "Can P&G's CEO Hang On?". Fortune. 167 (3): 66–75.
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- Jr, Richard A. Oppel (June 30, 2014). "V.A. Nominee McDonald Faced Criticism at Procter & Gamble". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 23, 2017.
- "P&G 2012 Annual Report". Retrieved February 24, 2015.
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- Wax-Thibodeaux, Emily (September 17, 2014). "VA plans to offer salary boost to attract new doctors". Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- Jackson withdraws from nomination for VA Secretary. Interview with Robert McDonald, former secretary. By Rachel Maddow. The Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC. April 26, 2018
- 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". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Washington Post. "Disney Remark". Retrieved May 23, 2016.
- "Secretary McDonald Compares VA Lines to Disneyland". May 23, 2016. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- News, A. B. C. (May 24, 2016). "VA Secretary 'Deeply Regrets' Wait Time Remarks". ABC News. Retrieved March 25, 2018.
- "Robert McDonald, Director since: 2005". www.xerox.com.
- "Bob McDonald - Thayer Development Group". www.thayerleaderdevelopment.com.
- "International Advisory Council". www.edb.gov.sg.
- "Diane McDonald: VA Secretary Robert McDonald's Wife (bio, wiki, photos)". Dailyentertainmentnews.com. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
| United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs