President Barack Obama is expected to nominate the former head of Procter & Gamble as secretary of Veterans Affairs, following Eric Shinseki’s resignation last month. A West Point graduate, Robert McDonald spent 33 years with the company that sells Crest toothpaste, Duracell batteries, and Charmin toilet paper.
After his time in the army, McDonald spent his entire career at Procter & Gamble, where he oversaw 120,000 employees.
His four years running the company were difficult ones. When McDonald took over in 2009, P&G was deep into a strategy that emphasized charging premium prices for brand name products — a strategy that became less effective after the financial crash of 2008. McDonald’s retirement from P&G last year was under pressure.
The new assignment could bring new challenges. Even though Procter & Gamble is the world’s biggest consumer-products company, it’s actually smaller than the VA. The company reports sales of $84 billion — a bit more than half of the VA’s $154 billion budget. The VA also has more than twice as many employees as P&G.