Ben Hasan encourages Forty Under 40 class to strike balance in life, develop digital skills

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,222 views 

Ben Hasan, chief culture, diversity and inclusion officer for Wal-Mart Stores, spoke of balance, commitment and passion when he addressed the 21st class of Forty Under 40 honorees.

On Tuesday (Aug. 22), the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal hosted a luncheon to honor the achievements of the 40-member class. They were among the nearly 400 family, friends and colleagues at the event at the Embassy Suites in Rogers.

“What got you here won’t keep you here,” Hasan said. “The world is changing.”

Hasan explained that when this year’s Forty Under 40 honorees are of retirement age, two-thirds of the workforce will be working in jobs not yet created. “Digital acumen is a hallmark of a next generation leader,” he said. For those who have yet to become skilled in technology, he said to quickly run to learn those skills, lest they risk “vocational irrelevance.”

Balance in life is important so as to avoid neglecting those for whom they went to work. Hasan said the time he had neglected to spend with his four children was something he’ll never get back. “I learned eventually to get better.”

The clients for whom they work for until 8 p.m. likely aren’t going to be the ones to visit them in retirement, Hasan joked. Having quality relationships later in life is like have a diversified portfolio, he said.

“I’ve installed some guardrails to help me keep my balance,” Hasan said. He puts his meetings with his wife on his calendar. He emphasized one should be intentional about scheduling time for family.

“The world is bigger than you and your small community,” he said. “Pour yourself into supporting others who find themselves in the midst of a storm.”

Wal-Mart Stores executive Ben Hasan, left, spoke to members of the Forty under 40 class at the Embassy Suites in Rogers on Tuesday (Aug. 22.) Hasan is joined by Lori Chalmers, CEO of Soderquist Leadership, Debbie Martin, executive director of Havenwood, and Rob Gutterridge, executive vice president and publisher of the Business Journal.

When his teenage son died in a house fire in Dallas in 1993, Hasan said he was asked to join the board of the American Red Cross. He wondered why he would be asked take on another task after his son’s death, as he was in graduate school at the time. But he joined the board, and it helped him focus on others instead of himself. He has since been involved in other nonprofit organizations.

He encouraged the class to find a way to serve, if they aren’t already. “A funny thing starts happening. You start to grow,” he said.

When discovering one’s passion, he asked, “What makes you angry?” He said when one sees something that needs to be addressed, the person to do something about it “is you.” If one experiences something wrong in the world that doesn’t make them angry, that person likely won’t take action to address it.

“Anger is a precursor to passion,” he said. But people need to “filter that anger through wisdom.”

He also spoke about the parallels between civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. and Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who was passionate about helping others to save money in order to live better.

Overall, he said, the common thread is people, and when one combines commitment and passion, the result is compassion. People have succeeded here because people change people. Sometimes they change them for the good, but others, sometimes for the worse.

Before speaking at the event, Hasan had the opportunity to speak informally to members of the Forty under 40 class. Hasan joined Wal-Mart in 2008 as senior vice president of strategic services for Walmart Technology. He was appointed to his current role in 2015.

“The future of our community is in really good hands,” Hasan said about this year’s Forty Under 40 class.

The event was sponsored by Intrust Bank.