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Walmart's Bender urges leaders to listen and learn

Monday, July 25, 2011  
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Michael Bender, executive vice president of Walmart U.S. and president of Walmart West, urged 200 industry leaders to be humble and listen to their team members at the Network of Executive Women's fifth annual NEW Executive Leaders Forum here July 20.

Bender told the gathering that effective leaders should seek alignment, take care of their teams, keep learning and keep their work and personal lives in balance. Bender was introduced by Network Board Chair Michelle Gloeckler, senior vice president for merchandise execution, Walmart Stores. Gloeckler noted that it was Network's tenth anniversary. "We have made a lot of progress on gender diversity," she said, "but there is much work left to be done."

Bender's keynote address outlined ways to build strategic frameworks inside large companies. "Make sure there is an alignment of initiatives and an openness to different points of view within your team," he said. "One way of accomplishing this is truly knowing the people you're working with, and making sure your team is fully committed to making the end goals happen."

Bender urged the mostly female audience to keep a work-life balance. "As much as I love what I do, I won't let it be my sole identity," Bender says. "I'll always give 110% to my career, but I cultivate my personal interests--family, friends and many other things--so I can be fulfilled."

The two-day event was emceed by Forum Chair Catherine Lindner, vice president of retail marketing for Walgreen Company. Joan Chow, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for ConAgra Foods, was the Forum's executive advisor.

Female vision needed

Author Sally Helgesen followed Bender. She discussed the research behind her book, "The Female Vision: Unlocking Your Real Power at Work,” and explained how the vision of women can transform organizations.

She was followed by a roundtable discussion on how the increased presence of women on corporate boards can benefit board decision making and alter careers for the better. The Forum's opening day concluded with three concurrent sessions, a one-on-one learning session and a poolside welcome reception and buffet sponsored by Chevron.

The Network's next national conference is the NEW Leadership Summit 2011, September 19-21 in Orlando. For more information on the Summit visit

Michael Bender, president of Walmart West, told 200 attendees at the NEW Executive Leaders Forum to listen to their team members and "stay humble."

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