Brewer Stresses Self-Reflection at Annual Forty Under 40 Event

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Sam’s Club president and CEO Rosalind Brewer urged the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal’s 2012 Forty Under 40 class to lift a figurative mirror and spend time in self-reflection as it prepares for the next stages of its careers during her presentation at the annual event.

Brewer made her remarks during the luncheon portion of the event at the Embassy Suites in Rogers, before a crowd of about 400 that included surprise guest Arkansas attorney general Dustin McDaniel.

“Ask yourself, ‘Who am I? What am I made of? How did I get here? What am I here to do?’” Brewer said before going through her own list of “Five Threads,” self-reminders that have helped her achieve professional success.

“Set big goals and aim even higher,” Brewer said, revealing the first thread. “You’d be amazed where the landing spot could be.”

Brewer, who said she’s described Northwest Arkansas as a “best-kept secret” since assuming her current role in February, also urged honorees to “make yourself visible” by filling work-related jobs that others don’t want to tackle.

Originally a chemist at Kimberly-Clark Corp., Brewer eventually became one of its division presidents before making the jump to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. She said one of the reasons she made the move was because the retail giant fulfilled another personal thread, to “Do work with a purpose.”

“Bring your head and heart together at work,” Brewer said.

She also advised honorees to “bring your whole self to work,” realize that change is inevitable, and to be agile when it happens. She closed her speech by asking a question and issuing a challenge.

“What are your five threads?” Brewer said. “Think about that now.”

The event was sponsored by InTrust Bank, and featured an honorees-only breakout session led by Brewer and former Wal-Mart COO Don Soderquist.

“I tell you, they’re an intimidating bunch,” joked Brewer, who was named to Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” list in 2010 and 2011.