Who knew that John Fogarty’s successful 25 year career (to date) would begin as he made a presentation in a class at Cornell as a junior?
As Fogarty ’00 presented a case study about Walmart to his professor and peers, leaders of that company also sat in the back of the room. They asked him to join them for lunch afterwards and during the meal, offered Fogarty an internship.
During that 1999 internship at Walmart, he got exposure to a number of areas and his professional life was up and running.
“I did some special projects for the US CFO (Chief Financial Officer),” he said. “I traveled with executives to see what it was like in the field. I got to see operations, logistics, finance, and more.”
That experience made him an attractive candidate to other blue chip companies like General Electric, Proctor and Gamble and SC Johnson after graduation, but he was excited about the future prospects at Walmart. And he’s taken full advantage.
“It’s all about the culture, the growth, and a career path,” he said. “That was important to me; long term growth. In my career, I’ve done 18 different jobs within Walmart. The passion to learn, succeed, and make a difference have made it so rewarding. I’m extremely excited about the work I’m doing.”
Fogarty’s current title is Senior Director of Enterprise Engagement, Product and Operations. He’s working on building capabilities and new businesses within the company.
Being deeply involved in a number of areas is nothing new. While in Ithaca, Fogarty held numerous leadership roles. He was Chairman of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC), a member of the prestigious Quill and Dagger Honor Society, a Teaching Assistant for Financial and Managerial Accounting courses, Vice President and Treasurer of Chi Phi Fraternity, a Tradition Fellow, and a Food Fellow.
Of course, he also was a prominent member of the wrestling team as a four-year starter, team captain, New York State Intercollegiate Champion, and three-time Ivy Champ.
One day in particular stood out in Fogarty’s mind - a pair of matches against Penn State and Lock Haven.
Fogarty considered Penn State in his recruiting process and as a Pennsylvania native, competing against these two schools was significant. (A two-time top three finisher in PA, Fogarty was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Central Columbia High School and his 116 wins is still a school record).
On that memorable day, Fogarty took on Clint Musser of the Nittany Lions, who was ranked #2 in the nation.
“If I had gone to Penn State, I probably would’ve been Musser’s back up,” Fogarty said. "Beating him on his turf and the team winning the dual was exciting. Then I pinned one of Lock Haven’s best wrestlers later in the day.”
Another highlight was Fogarty’s trip to the NCAA tournament as a sophomore in 1998 at 150 pounds.
“It’s the Super Bowl of wrestling; one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he said. “The speed, pace, and intensity are at another level from the regular season. Unfortunately, I dislocated my shoulder four weeks before the tournament and had only wrestled a few matches in order to qualify. I wish I could’ve wrestled better, but it was still a great experience.”
While injuries and illnesses had an impact in his later years, Fogarty valued his time in Ithaca immensely.
“The best parts were my teammates, my coaches, the alumni, and everybody that is in the support system at Cornell,” he said. “Without all of them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I was prepared to be successful in my career and personal life. I never achieved my goal of being an All-American. I had serious surgery at the end of my junior year and was 10-0 my senior year and then got mono. You look back and wish you had those days back. But not meeting goals propels you to success in everything else. It’s ok to lose; it’s what you learn from losing that matters. Cornell was the dream for me.”
He has been back to Ithaca, guest lecturing in Marketing courses at Cornell. In fact, he would like to be a teacher after he retires from Walmart and already is an adjunct professor at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas.
“It’s all about giving to the next generation,” he said. “I have a passion for helping students as they think through their futures. It’s my way of giving back. Professors were there for me at Cornell. There were so many who invested in me, especially Deb Perosio.”
His instruction goes beyond the classroom, however, as he is the Founder and Executive Director of Northwest Arkansas Wrestling Academy, which looks to grow the sport in the Razorback State as well as develop student athletes on and off the mat.
Wrestling is never too far from his mind. The training and mindset have helped him with new achievements, like completing a 70.3 Ironman.
“Going to Cornell was a no brainer,” he said. “It still is. It’s a top notch academic institution while also being a top notch wrestling program. I couldn’t have had a better support system. It’s amazing what opportunities present themselves because you’re at Cornell and part of the wrestling community.”