As the top marketing executive for the biggest consumer-products company in the world at the headquarters of the biggest retailer on earth, power would seem to come with the territory for Julie Walker.
|Julie Walker, Global marketing director of the Wal-Mart team for Procter & Gamble Co.
But the global marketing director of the Wal-Mart team for Procter & Gamble Co. knows her job really is more about influence than power—even if that influence does affect two of the biggest forces in marketing.
"This job is definitely a platform for influential leadership," says Ms. Walker, who's been on the Wal-Mart Stores team since 2001 and the top P&G marketer there since 2004. "I have very little control over anything. But both within [P&G] and with the largest retailer in the world, there's a lot of opportunity to influence."
The logistics of getting marketing concepts implemented in-store "are one of the few forms of media you can't buy," says Ms. Walker, 37. "You have to motivate other people that the things you want to do will actually be good for their stores."
It's what she's been doing for years. After coming to P&G in 1991 in the promotions department and coming up through brand management on Pampers, Ms. Walker in 1997 became only the third marketing executive assigned to a customer team, starting with the Southeast region.
"She has an ability to bring people along on a vision," says Andy Murray, president of Publicis Groupe's shopper-marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi X, based near Wal-Mart's hometown of Bentonville, Ark. "That's very difficult in the kind of pioneering role she's had."
Now, Ms. Walker is in a critical job at a crucial juncture. She's part of the effort to integrate P&G's biggest acquisition ever, Gillette Co. But complicating matters, Wal-Mart is undergoing a marketing transformation under new Chief Marketing Officer John Fleming, who's moving beyond low prices to seek a bigger share of wallet from middle- and upper-income consumers. As Wal-Mart's biggest vendor, P&G has to play a supporting role in that, Ms. Walker says. "We have to be incredibly in tune with their approach and align our strategies to complement that," she says. "That's one of the No. 1 things P&G pays me for."
Ms. Walker says she welcomes bringing in members of a Gillette team whose in-store work P&G long has admired.
The mother of three boys is married to another of the top shopper marketers in northwest Arkansas—Shawn Walker, senior VP-retail marketing at Tyson Foods. Work and family leave little time for hobbies, but Ms. Walker sits on three nonprofit boards, including for the University of Arkansas Center for Retail Excellence.