Nov. 25, 2013 -- intro: Wal-Mart, the world's largest private employer, is getting a new leader. While CEOs like Tim Cook at Apple are household names, few Americans are likely to know anything about Doug McMillon.
With Wal-Mart's announcement during the company's busiest shopping week of the year McMillon, 47, has been thrust into the spotlight. He'll take over Feb. 1 from his current post as president and CEO of Walmart International, overseeing more than 6,300 stores and 823,000 workers in 26 countries outside the U.S.
His promotion comes at a key time for the retailer, which is battling to increase sales as well as fending off its critics, who complain about low pay and not enough opportunities to advance for too many of Walmart's 2 million employees.
Here are five things to know about McMillon's appointment:
quicklist: title: Timingtext: Wal-Mart's announcement during the biggest shopping week of the year was a surprise to most company watchers, though the move is believed to have set in motion by its board meeting in September.
While its holiday merchandising plan has been in place for months, the company is still heavily preparing for what it calls the "Super Bowl of retail." Wal-Mart Stores CEO Mike Duke, 63, will remain as chairman and advise McMillon for a year.
Duke, who will have had the shortest term of Wal-Mart's CEOs at five years in February, will turn 64 on Dec. 7.
quicklist: title: Deep Rootstext: McMillon began his career at Wal-Mart as a summer associate in a Walmart Distribution Center in 1984, loading and unloading trucks. As a 22-year veteran of the company, McMillon has lived in Bentonville, Ark., as Walmart International CEO. Before then, he was president and CEO of Sam's Club from 2006 to 2009.
McMillon also worked at a Walmart store while earning his MBA from the University of Tulsa.
quicklist: title: Competition text: Some analysts expected that McMillon was groomed for the role while others were betting on Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., to get the top job.
Simon, who joined the company in March 2006, was previously chief operating officer for Walmart U.S. from 2007 to 2010.
McMillon will be just the company's fifth CEO in Walmart's 51-year history. It was no surprise that the company decided to look internally to its rank and file to run its complex and gigantic business. Wal-Mart books more than a billion dollars a day in sales worldwide, or $469 billion in fiscal year 2013.
quicklist: title: Family text: McMillon once told CNBC in an interview that he was hesitant to take a job in the company's international operations, which would eventually require travel to places like South Africa, Brazil, China and Europe, because he had a young child at the time. Now, one of his sons attends college while the other is a junior in high school.
quicklist: title: Arkansas Pride text:
McMillon is from Jonesboro, Ark., and he graduated from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, with a bachelor of science in business administration.