10 Things to Know About VA Secretary Nominee Robert McDonald

The Department of Veterans Affairs is in the midst of controversy concerning secret patient wait lists and falsified appointment records, and President Obama has nominated Robert McDonald, a former CEO of Procter & Gamble, to lead the troubled department through its treacherous times.

Here are 10 things to know about Mr. McDonald.

1. Mr. McDonald's professional background is quite different from those who have held the position of VA Secretary in recent years, as the role has traditionally been filled by politicians, medical professionals and retired generals. Mr. McDonald's predecessor, Eric Shinseki, was a retired U.S. Army general with nearly 40 years of active service. Mr. Shinseki began leading the VA in 2009, and he resigned in May in the midst of growing calls for his firing, as many felt he failed to act on problems plaguing the troubled veteran's system.Robert McDonald

2. However, Mr. McDonald does have a military background. He graduated in the top 2 percent of his class from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1975, and he served five years in the Army. Upon leaving the military, he received the Meritorious Service Medal. Mr. McDonald also received an MBA from Salt Lake City-based University of Utah in 1978.

3. On June 30, President Obama issued remarks on his nomination of Mr. McDonald as VA Secretary. The President said Mr. McDonald is the right person to lead the VA because of his extensive leadership experience, which he obtained during the almost three decades he was with Procter & Gamble. President Obama said Mr. McDonald "knows the key to any successful enterprise is staying focused on the people you're trying to serve." He also highlighted Mr. McDonald's operational excellence and said the former CEO knows how to put a plan into action to make organizations better, which is vital to the role of leading the VA.

4. Mr. McDonald began his career at Procter & Gamble as a brand assistant in 1980 and worked his way up through the ranks to become CEO of the company, a position he held from 2009 to 2013. As CEO, he oversaw more than 120,000 employees and products sold in more than 180 countries. Between his salary and bonuses, Mr. McDonald made nearly $16 million in 2013, his last year at Procter & Gamble. 

5. The day Mr. McDonald became CEO of Procter & Gamble, the company's stock price was $51.10, and on the day his last quarterly results were announced the stock closed at $81.64 — a 60 percent increase. While Mr. McDonald was leading Procter & Gamble, the company's organic sales grew about 3 percent per year.

6. The nomination of Mr. McDonald as VA Secretary was praised in Washington. However, critics say his corporate background leaves him ill prepared to handle the problems plaguing the VA. Some veterans groups have openly voiced their dissatisfaction with Mr. McDonald's nomination saying he has no direct healthcare experience, which is a critical deficiency since he is taking over an agency that is responsible for the physical and mental health of the country's veterans.

7. Mr. McDonald serves on the board of directors for a number of corporations, including Xerox, where he has been a director since May 19, 2005, and the U.S. Steel Corp., a position he began on Jan. 1. When he was ousted as CEO of Procter & Gamble in 2013, some of his critics, including hedge fund investor Bill Ackman, said Mr. McDonald served on the boards of too many other organizations, which kept him from properly focusing on Procter & Gamble.

8. After the board of Procter & Gamble let Mr. McDonald go, he was replaced by A.G. Lafley, who was also Mr. McDonald's predecessor. Mr. Lafley began his career at Procter & Gamble in 1977 and served as president and CEO from 2000 to 2009. Like Mr. McDonald, Mr. Lafley also has a military background. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1970 where he oversaw all of the retail and service operations for 10,000 Navy and Marine corps and their families in Japan.

9. Outside of the corporate structure, Mr. McDonald has made it a point to share the importance of leadership to others. He established the McDonald Cadet Leadership Conference at West Point — a biennial multi-day conference — that brings together many of the brightest individuals from universities around the world and pairs them with influential business executives and government leaders in a learning environment. Last year, Angela Braly, former chair, president and CEO of Wellpoint participated in the conference.

10. Mr. McDonald has privately donated funds totaling $30,000 to a number of political campaigns. He has donated exclusively to Republicans, including 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and House Speaker John Boehner, according to a report from CNN

More Articles on the VA:

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Lawmakers Press VA on Transparency 
Private Healthcare Providers in Phoenix Ready to Treat Veterans 

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