Mike Cook, Vice president and assistant treasurer
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
Mike Cook likes to joke that he graduated in the Top 10 of his high school class. It's true, but so did everybody else. There were only eight students who graduated that year from the tiny high school in Ballard, Mo. Cook grew up on a farm 12 miles from Butler, Mo., south of Kansas City. In 1986, he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration, with an emphasis in finance, from Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. Cook spent the next four years as a bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department. He worked for the following three years for Wood Specialty Products (now WSP Inc.) of Rogers, which made stereo speakers and cabinets and now specializes in repackaging products for Wal-Mart vendors. Cook went to work for Wal-Mart in 1993 as assistant cash manager in the corporate finance area and has remained there ever since. Cook said he had six different positions with Wal-Mart before landing in his current job. "I appreciate the opportunities Wal-Mart gives you for advancement," he said. "They're a great company." For fun, Cook enjoys boating on Beaver Lake and "just being outdoors." His advice to young people seeking a career with Wal-Mart? Don't just work harder: Work smarter, too.< Back to 2004 40 Under Forty