University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Five Takeaways From the 2022 Walton MBA Showcase

Walton College Dean Matt Waller and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon during a fireside chat-style conversation at the 2022 Walton MBA Showcase.
December 14, 2022  |  By Helen Woodham, Gracie Crain

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On Friday, November 11th, the Sam M. Walton College of Business hosted its annual Walton MBA Alumni Showcase. A blockbuster biennial event since 2013, the MBA Showcase strengthens its community of graduates through facilitating networking sessions and providing the opportunities to hear from expert industry leaders. In the past, this exclusive event has only consisted of Walton MBA alumni, but this year, for the first time ever, current MBA students were invited to attend. As second-year students, it was an honor to learn from some of the most successful businesspeople in the NWA community. The event was a unique experience, demonstrating the breadth of Walton MBA program across different industries, companies, and classes of cohorts.  Here are five takeaways from this impactful day:

1.  The value of the consumer

In her presentation, Jessica Hendrix, President & CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi X described how the shopper marketing agency uses the “three Es” to reach consumers through advertising. By putting empathy, emotion, and engagement into practice, SSX has been able to “bring, brands, retailers, and shoppers together” in a way that provides joint value for every party involved. The theme of focusing on consumers was expanded upon by Judy R. McReynolds, Chairman, President, and CEO of ArcBest explained that their goal is to “see the world through customer’s eyes” and find the solution that serves them best, not forcing a perceived fix upon them. Shelley Simpson, President of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., described the transportation company’s service strategy as having a “full suite of services” so that when customers have a specific need, it can be met.

2.  Empowering your employees

Before companies can reach their consumers, though, they should align company employees to one mission and vision. Doug McMillon, President & CEO of Walmart, discussed how employees cannot pick and choose which company values they adopt. He explained it is imperative for every employee to embody the entirety of Walmart’s values, as this directly impacts and progresses company culture. We can look to Ray Dillon, CEO (retired) of Deltic Timber Corporation, for more insight into how leaders can transfuse companies with principles that drive companies forward, inspire employees, and serve customers. Dillon said that the “role of the CEO is to be more today than yesterday.” He urged CEOs to be closely connected to frontline employees in order to reiterate company values, mission, and goals.

3.  Continual Learning is Key

Mervin Jebaraj, Director of the Center for Research & Economic Development at the University of Arkansas Sam M. Walton College of Business, discussed the current economic state of NWA, Arkansas, and the United States. In his presentation, he explained the value of seeing the full picture and understanding how factors at every level have an impact on the overall story of the economy. Understanding the full scope of a situation is only achieved by analyzing these contributing elements and making a commitment to constantly monitor their growth and development. 

4.  Having strategies to support company goals

Hearing from the leaders of different industries and companies, it quickly became clear that strategies that support company goals and initiatives are essential to corporate success. Judy R. McReynolds mentioned that ArcBest conducts quarterly reviews to challenge their strategies and find room for improvement. Due to the changes occurring in the logistics industry and the ferocity of the competition, McReynolds said that this consistent revision of policies is key to overall success. Thomas Faust, Chairman at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, described how virtual meeting platforms such as Zoom allowed for the acquisition of the company to be accomplished so successfully. Faust said that without the flexibility provided by the virtual meeting space the conversations around the business deal would have taken much more time. Using the right technology at the right time was crucial to the closure of this successful negotiation. Shelley Simpson stated that understanding customer needs and having the services in place to meet those needs should be the goal of every company. Clete Brewer, Managing Partner at New Road Venture, described how to utilize demand driven business during a fireside chat with Dean Matt Waller. 

5.  The Walton MBA Program connections last forever, not just while you’re a student

The Walton MBA Program embodies a spirit of innovation and leadership, clearly evidenced by the MBA Showcase. This legacy consists of state-of-the-art facilities, extremely knowledgeable  faculty and staff, unique industry partnerships, successful alumni, and passionate students. 

MBA director Dr. Adam Stoverink said it best, “your time in the classroom does not mark the end of an individuals’ involvement with the Walton MBA program.” The Walton College, the Walton MBA program, the Walton Alumni: a community, a comradery, a legacy worth being a part of, today and for years to come.

It was a joy and honor to be able to learn from and meet some of the best in their fields at the 2022 Walton MBA Showcase. The Walton MBA program is a program that we are proud to be a part of and one that we cannot wait to support as alumni come May 2023. 

Helen Woodham and Grace Crain are second year Accelerated MBA students, with undergraduate degrees from the University of Arkansas. Woodham and Crain are graduating in May, with a custom concentration in Marketing and the Art of Storytelling.

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Helen WoodhamnHelen Woodham is from Bryant, Arkansas. She earned a B.S.B.A in Marketing and a B.A. in Journalism Advertising & Public Relations.


Grace CrainGrace Crain is from Little Rock, Arkansas. She majored in Marketing with a minor in Economics. After graduation in May, Grace will move to Austin, Texas as a Business Technology Solutions Analyst with Deloitte Consulting.