With a communications career that began in politics and ended up in corporate, Dan Bartlett has seen most sides of the industry.
After spending 14 years in the political world, working on comms with George W. Bush as he moved from Texas governor to presidential candidate to president, Bartlett left politics for a job on the agency side. He took the helm at public affairs firm Public Strategies in Dallas for three years before becoming U.S. president and CEO at Hill+Knowlton Strategies.
Two years later, Bartlett made the jump to the client side, joining Wal-Mart as EVP of corporate affairs in 2013. The company had its challenges, with negative perceptions and the growing competition from e-commerce. But he was used to it.
"The intensity [at Wal-Mart] is somewhat similar to politics," Bartlett said in 2015. "We get twice the coverage of all of our competitors combined. Luckily, in my past profession you develop a thick skin for that type of scrutiny."
Bartlett certainly chose a challenging time to join the retailer, when online marketplaces such as Amazon were beginning to put a serious dent in physical store revenue. When he joined, then-CEO Mike Duke said he was the "ideal leader to continue moving us forward."
Bartlett talked about adapting in 2015, saying, "It’s not your parents’ Wal-Mart."