Ouachita Baptist University will host Donald Soderquist, former chief operating officer of Wal-Mart, as part of the university’s endowed Birkett Williams Lecture Series on Monday, April 15, at 7 p.m. The lecture will be held in Mabee Fine Art Center’s McBeth Recital Hall. The event is free and open to the public.
“We were looking for a leader in the field of business who was a dynamic communicator,” said Bryan McKinney, dean of the Hickingbotham School of Business. “Mr. Soderquist is a perfect fit, and, additionally, he is a strong advocate for Christian higher education and will understand the nature and purposes of a place like OBU.
“I really appreciate Dr. Horne’s focus on ‘difference makers’ and I think for all of us to become difference makers, it’s helpful to interact with people who have made a meaningful impact on the world,” McKinney added. “I hope students and faculty will hear a fascinating story about the development of the world’s largest business, and I hope they will walk away believing that ethical practices are important.”
Soderquist, a longtime friend of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, joined Wal-Mart in 1980 as executive vice president. During his 20-plus years there, Soderquist served in several executive positions, including senior vice chairman and chief operating officer, and became known as “The Keeper of the Culture” after Walton died. Soderquist led the company during a time of immense growth. Under his leadership, Wal-Mart expanded from being the largest retailer in the world, with sales of $43.9 billion the year of Walton’s death, to the largest company in the world, with annual sales over $200 billion.
In 1998, the Soderquist Center for Business Leadership and Ethics at John Brown University was named after Soderquist. He serves as the founding executive and gives inspiration and direction to the Center team. Soderquist also has received three honorary degrees and written two books, The Wal-Mart Way and Live, Learn, Lead.
Since retiring in 2000, Soderquist has had the opportunity to speak at numerous events, has been active with nonprofit organizations in Arkansas and, in 2011, was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame. His passion now is to teach the servant leadership philosophies and principles that he learned while at Wal-Mart to organizations around the world.
Ouachita’s Birkett Williams Lecture Series was established in 1977 through a gift from the late Birkett L. Williams, a 1910 Ouachita graduate. His generous endowment established the lectures as an opportunity to extend the concepts of a liberal arts education beyond the classroom by bringing outstanding scholars and public figures to Ouachita’s campus.
For more information, contact Bryan McKinney at email@example.com or (870) 245-5531.
By Ryleigh Salmon