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Department head Dr. Lewis Ntaimo, left, presents Rick Wilkinson with the Wm Michael Barnes '64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering’s 2023 Distinguished Former Student Award.
Rick Wilkinson, right, receives his award from Dr. Lewis Ntaimo, department head. Wilkinson worked for various companies during his career, including the Neiman Marcus Group and Walmart. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Rick Wilkinson '82 received the 2023 Distinguished Former Student Award from the Wm Michael Barnes '64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University.

"Thank you for this recognition, but most of all, thank you for recognizing – through me – the teams who have done the impactful work beside me and for recognizing my family for how they've supported me," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson received his bachelor's degree in industrial engineering, and said learning, retooling and reinventing defined his career. After several early-career roles, Wilkinson joined the Neiman Marcus Group, ultimately serving as vice president of supply chain engineering and fulfillment operations. His teams designed and opened several distribution centers, one of which he was operationally responsible for. 

Following his work with Neiman Marcus, Wilkinson led Walmart's U.S supply chain engineering teams. He set the direction and vision for engineers supporting all formats, including general merchandise, food, fashion, e-commerce and future formats.

Wilkinson credits his teams for the successes of his career.

"I was fortunate to be supported by talented, high-performance teams," he said. "For example, at Walmart, we played critical roles in developing foundational processes and automation and robotic technologies deployed across their U.S. stores, distribution and fulfillment networks. And along the way, we saved billions of dollars for our customers."

After completing his career serving in senior engineering leadership roles for a major discount retailer and a global third-party logistics distributor, Wilkinson retired in 2020 and returned to College Station, where he consults with his firm, Supply Chain Designs. He continues to focus on his family and supporting Texas A&M and the industrial and systems engineering department. In addition to serving on the department's advisory council, the Wilkinsons established an endowed gift through The Texas A&M Foundation and the Meribeth and Rick Wilkinson '82 Endowed Scholarship to support industrial engineering students pursuing their undergraduate degrees.

"Rick's career highlights how industrial and systems engineering applies to any industry," said Dr. Lewis Ntaimo, department head. "We are excited to celebrate his career success and thank him for continuing to help future engineers and serving on the department's advisory council since 2011. 

"We support Texas A&M and this department because we know how important the research done by the faculty and staff is and how impactful our students will be," Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson's advice to students is to build relationships and hone the right-brain skills.

"Relationship building, vision, leadership, creativity, imagination — these are the skills that will propel you to impactful roles," he said. "Start early building a disciplined work ethic. It will pay off."