W. Rodney McMullen stands at the helm of The Kroger Co., an American retail giant, as its Chairman and CEO, a role he assumed on January 1, 2014. Born in 1961 in Pineville, Kentucky, McMullen's journey to the top echelons of the business world is a testament to his dedication and leadership acumen.
McMullen's affinity for Kroger dates back to 1978, when he began working part-time as a stock clerk at a local Kroger grocery store while pursuing his college education. Raised on his family-owned farm, he became the first in his family to earn a college degree, graduating with both a bachelor's and a master's degree in accounting from the University of Kentucky.
His ascent within Kroger reflects a remarkable trajectory. Starting as a stock clerk, McMullen later transitioned to corporate headquarters in Charlotte, eventually becoming a financial analyst. His pivotal role in the merger with Fred Meyer, Inc. in 1999 underscored his strategic contributions. At the age of 34, McMullen assumed the position of Chief Financial Officer, marking the beginning of his executive leadership journey.
Over the years, McMullen held various key roles, including Vice Chairman in 2003 and Chief Operating Officer in 2009. His transformative leadership paved the way for him to become the CEO of Kroger in 2014, succeeding David Dillon. Under his guidance, Kroger continued its evolution as a retail powerhouse.
Apart from his role at Kroger, he is a non-executive director of Cincinnati Financial. His impact on Kroger's trajectory is evident in the financial realm, with his compensation reflecting the company's success. In FY 2019, he received $20.1 million, a 21% increase from the previous year, primarily attributed to performance-based stock awards.
McMullen's leadership extends beyond Kroger. He serves as a member of the Board of Directors of VF Corporation, Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC), Cincinnati Business Committee, and Consumer Goods Forum. Additionally, he contributes to academia, being part of the Board of Trustees of Xavier University and the Dean's Advisory Council of the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics.
Further, his commitment to education is rooted in his alma mater, the University of Kentucky, where he earned degrees in accounting and finance. He now gives back by serving on the university foundation board and chairing the board development committee.
With regard to his personal life, McMullen is happily married to Kathryn King McMullen, whom he met during their time as students at the University of Kentucky. The couple resides in Cincinnati, where they share a love for traveling and hiking.
McMullen's journey from a part-time stock clerk to the CEO of one of the largest retailers in the U.S. reflects resilience, dedication, and visionary leadership. His impact extends not only to the corporate realm but also to the communities and institutions he passionately serves.