It should come as no surprise that a guest lecture by a highly placed Wal-Mart official would draw a crowd. And when you add to the equation that the speaker’s job focuses on The Americas and that he would be delivering the speech in the College of Business Administration—with its prominence in business research in The Americas and its faculty and student profile in which the region is strongly represented—success should be assured.
The attendance numbers and the enthusiasm generated by the appearance of Craig Herkert, president and CEO, The Americas, for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., were every bit as significant as anyone could have anticipated. As part of the college’s Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series, Herkert spoke about “Success Factors in Serving and Winning the ‘Working Class Customer’ Market” to an audience of between 300 and 400 college faculty members, administrators, staff, students, alumni, and business partners.
Lecture conveys commitment to local communities.
Herkert impressed John Zdanowicz, professor and Florida International Bankers Association Chair, Department of Finance and Real Estate, and director, Jerome Bain Real Estate Institute. He zeroed in on what Herkert had to say about service and how it ties to capitalism.
“I was happy to discover that the company is contributing to the welfare of individuals in less developed countries in Latin American by promoting capitalistic business ventures and by providing financial services to the poor,” Zdanowicz said.
Monique Catoggio (EMBA ’03), director of advancement and alumni relations, saw the timeliness of Herkert’s message.
“With our current economic crisis and the criticism so many major worldwide companies are experiencing today–as many of them should—it was refreshing to listen to a CEO who seems to truly care about the communities in which Wal-Mart is growing and expanding,” she said. “Is Wal-Mart profiting from its targeted cultural marketing and retail strategies? Absolutely! But are these communities benefiting from it as well? It definitely seems they are.”
Herkert’s message about working with locals to develop businesses interested William Hardin, associate professor, Knight Ridder Research Professor, and director of real estate programs, Department of Finance and Real Estate.
“Wal-Mart has to create much of the infrastructure it needs to do business in many Latin American countries,” he said. “This is integral to success in their target markets.”
The lecture took place on September 10, 2008, part of the Herbert A. Wertheim Lecture Series, which has brought distinguished speakers and experts in business leadership and entrepreneurship to Florida International University since 1993.