FacultyFaculty/Author Profile

Coleman Peterson

Hollis Enterprises, LLC
Bentonville, AR, USA

Cole Peterson is President/CEO of Hollis Enterprises, LLC, a human resources consulting firm founded in 2004 following his retirement from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. He specializes in helping organizations maximize their effectiveness through people. Peterson has been frequently featured in the media and is highlighted in numerous books and articles on human resources, leadership and Wal-Mart.

Peterson, known as America’s top people person, served as Executive Vice President of People for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where he had the distinction of being the Chief Human Resource Officer of the world’s largest private workforce (today: 1.9 million associates world-wide).

Wal-Mart is a $379 billion a year retailer (2008) and has been named as America’s #1 Most Admired Company by Fortune Magazine as well as taking the Fortune 500 top spot numerous times. Peterson introduced his Get, Keep, and Grow strategy to help build the people and Wal-Mart culture using the three elements of attracting, retaining, and developing. Peterson’s main objective was to find diverse, highly motivated people to execute Wal-Mart’s business strategies around the globe. Peterson helped diversify the workforce and Wal-Mart is now the country’s number one employer of African-Americans and Hispanics with a workforce population larger than many U.S. cities.

Peterson serves on the corporate boards of J.B. Hunt Transport of Lowell, Arkansas and Build-A-Bear Workshop of St. Louis. He serves as chairman of the compensation and development committees on both boards, as well as serving on their nominating and corporate governance committees.  He was most recently elected Lead Director of the Build-A-Bear Board.

Peterson was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Northwest Arkansas Community College by the governor of Arkansas and now serves as Chairman of that Board. He is a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi and Sigma Pi Phi fraternities. He is also a member of the National Council of La Raza. Cole has received the highest recognition within the human resource industry when he was inducted as a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources. He is a past recipient of the Society for Human Resource Management's highest recognition: The Award for Professional Excellence. In October 2004, Linkage Incorporated honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Human Resources Excellence. His most recent recognition was the 2007 Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement award by the Northwest Arkansas MLK Planning Committee and the 2007 Volunteer of the Year Award given by the Chancellor of the University of Arkansas. In 2008 he received two awards; the National Association of African Americans in Human Resource Professionals Trail Blazer and the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arkansas Society for Human Resource Management State Council.

Peterson is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and grew up in Chicago where he obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Loyola University. He and his wife, Shirley, have two children and reside in Rogers, Arkansas.



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