The future generation of business leaders

I’ve listened to a lot of big wigs give business presentations.  Some good, some not so good.  Maybe it’s my proximity to the Wal-Mart Headquarters, but most of these business leaders seem to have Wal-Mart somewhere in their resume.  I guess Wal-Mart (especially in its early days) was quite the engine for producing high-potential leaders.  Business people who “grew up” at Wal-Mart are now running other multi-national, multi-billion dollar, multi-multi-multi corporations.

This weekend I attended a presentation by a corporate officer of HP.  It was a great presentation.  This person started working at Wal-Mart when the company only had 200 stores and about $500 million in revenue.  Wal-Mart was still considered a “small” business at that time.  What he learned helping Wal-Mart grow from 200 stores and $500 million to the largest company in the world must have been incredibly valuable and is no doubt helping him in his current role at HP.

I wonder which companies are now producing the next generation of business leaders?  Just my opinion, but I don’t believe it is the companies that already have a formula for success and are replicating that formula through all levels in the organization.

I think the reason Wal-Mart produced so many capable business leaders is because of the feet-on-the-ground, entrepreneurial sweat equity that went on in the early days of Wal-Mart’s history.  I’m not saying that some of it doesn’t still go on, but now it is more of a cultural remnant than a “if we don’t make this work we won’t be here” reality.