Walmart’s new Senior Vice President of Operations for the East Business Unit talks learning, leadership and his love for people.
Cedric Clark is brand-new to the position of Senior Vice President of Operations for the East Business Unit, but he is not new to Walmart.
He started his career as an associate in sporting goods in 2002, and rapidly started working his way up through the company from there, first moving to loss prevention and then to operations.
As the East BU Lead, Cedric oversees more than 700 stores and 200,000 associates.
The Secret to His Success
When asked about his fast-moving career, he answers easily, “I have this saying, ‘once you stop learning, you forfeit the right to teach.’ As I went on that journey of getting more responsibility, I always had this curiosity.”
Wherever he was, he would talk to people in other positions and ask questions about what they did and how they did it. “When I was an in-store LP, I was always wondering what the store manager did, trying to have conversations on what their job is and what’s important to them. I’ve just always been a lifelong learner.”
Love for people is another reason Cedric believes he’s succeeded as a leader.
“I really love people,” he explains. “I love helping people be better. I love framing things to help their job be simplified, maybe even narrow them in to help them find wins, and then that win turns into three or four wins. And suddenly, they can't lose.”
That love includes genuinely appreciating how every associate is unique.
“It inspires me to want to connect with them and see, okay, how can I motivate this person? How do I connect to this person? How do I get them excited?” he says.
A former point guard on the basketball team at Washington State University, Cedric sees leadership as an integral part of good teamwork.
“When I was playing at college, there were so many different personalities,” he says. “The coach had to navigate egos. Our coach had to navigate and maybe pull someone that was a leader, but maybe didn't have the performance. Sometimes the leader isn't the best scorer.
“As a team captain, I was trying to figure out how to motivate, how to get the best out of my teammates. You realize, your team is only as good as your teamwork. That clearly has translated into my work,” he shares.
Back to Blue
Cedric left Walmart in 2015 to gain experience by working for another retailer, but he was back within two years, when he became the Vice President of Operations for Sam’s Club. In February 2022, he started his new position back at Walmart.
“It was great, but I bleed blue,” Cedric says of his time away. “Then I was fortunate to come back and run a different business and jump right into Sam's and so it worked out really great.”
Today, he serves as “basically the general manager” of Walmart’s East Business Unit. His goal is to create an environment that’s healthy and safe for associates, foster great talent and position associates and stores for success in the future.
Fast Facts About Cedric
- Most Influential Figure: Grandma, who gave him “everything she had.”
- Talents: Cedric is a concert pianist—but he chose to give up the keys for the court in college.
- Student Abroad: Due to his stepfather’s military service, he attended high school in Germany.
- Podcast Host: With his friend Kojo Mensah-Bonsu, he produces The DӓBu Podcast, where they talk about community and societal issues, history and business. (You might recognize a couple of his guests: Walmart’s own John Furner and Sam’s Club’s Kath McLay!)