Fast 15: Lauren Johnson

by Paul Gatling ( 746 views 

Lauren Johnson says her competitiveness is one of her best attributes.

It comes from playing sports growing up in southwest Missouri. Whatever the sport, she always wanted to win. Having an older brother only strengthened the competitive streak, she says.

Johnson still has that same drive to be the best in “Vendorville,” where competition is fierce among consumer product companies seeking any advantage available while servicing their largest client — Wal-Mart Stores.

Johnson is part of a team that advises Wal-Mart on one of its largest categories — carbonated soft drinks, which generates annual sales of about $4.5 billion. In that role, she handles modular design and planning, develops strategic initiatives with the buyer and works with various independent bottlers to ensure Pepsi products are on the shelves of the largest retailer in the world.

A Joplin, Mo., native, she has been with the company for two years. Before that, she spent two years working as a replenishment analyst for Colgate-Palmolive, which included a 14-month internship that started at the end of her junior year while attending the University of Arkansas.

Johnson earned a degree in supply chain management from the Sam M. Walton College of Business in 2014. She was a member of both the Alpha Omicron Pi women’s fraternity and the Gamma Beta Phi honor society.

“The Walton College really sets you up for success,” she said. “With the proximity to the vendor community, it’s a perfect set-up for getting an internship or part-time job while you’re in school that will potentially lead you to a full-time job after graduation.”

Johnson competed twice in the Operation Stimulus Case Competition — a major case competition for logistics and supply chain undergraduates each year in Denver. She was also part of a team her senior year that finished second in a logistics and supply chain competition sponsored by the Intermodal Association of North America.

Johnson, an active member of the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas, was recently appointed vice chairman of a committee that provides supplies to families who’ve been displaced to shelters as a result of domestic violence.

Volunteering is also a pathway for Johnson’s community involvement. She’s taken advantage of available opportunities at several events, including the Bentonville Film Festival and the Wal-Mart NW Arkansas Championship, the annual LPGA Tour event held at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers.