Opportunity

From Part-Time to a World of Possibilities

When I was 18, I took a temporary job at Walmart for extra cash. Eleven years later, I’ve gained so much more: a challenging, satisfying career.

I had no idea that my time making cakes in a supercenter bakery would set me up for the chance to be store manager. But my seemingly small choice indeed led to something bigger, and I love to tell people about the opportunity and personal growth I’ve experienced.

After six months in the bakery I was given the option to move to the wireless department, where I showed enough initiative to be named department manager. My co-manager at the time encouraged me to apply for the company’s manager in training program. I was accepted, and I believe the trajectory of my life changed from there.

I went from being a quiet, insecure college student who was uncertain about what she wanted to a confident, well-spoken woman who now leaves a lasting impression on her co-workers and family. Right after the manager in training program, I visited my aunt and uncle, who told me I wowed them by being completely different – way more talkative and extroverted than ever.

Today, I use my newfound outgoing spirit to not only run my Neighborhood Market, but also to tell my associates about the path of potential I found. I love encouraging others and watching them blossom. For example, I can recall one of my associates who started out seeming unsure of himself, but after a few years and making connections with others in the store, he’s now a department manager. I can see his future: buying a home, sending his kids to college. Watching all this happen is like magic to me.

I want all my associates to understand the opportunities they have with this company. I didn’t know it on the first day, but as a store manager, it’s my job to ensure that as many associates as possible can see it – and seize it – from the start.

3 Comments

Innovation

Checking Your Grocery List, and Getting it Right

People want to save money and time, so it's no wonder online grocery shopping sounds so appealing. Open your browser, click the grocery items you need, and let someone else do the shopping for you – right down to loading them in your trunk, right?

That’s exactly why Walmart will be expanding its online grocery service to nine more new markets this month, such as Columbus, Ohio; Omaha, Nebraska; and Raleigh, North Carolina. But our customers want more than just the ability to click and shop from the comfort of their own homes or workplaces. They want to know the perfect tomato – or better yet, banana or avocado (because those can be especially tricky) – finds its way into their grocery bag every time.

Before we began expanding the service to more markets, we worked tirelessly for quite some time to pilot and modify our online grocery service – and that’s because we’re committed to getting it right every time. The key to how we build a trusting bond with customers rests with our managers and, most importantly, our personal shoppers. We select only the best of the best for this critical role, and each associate undergoes rigorous training.

Selecting great produce and meat is essential. Personal shoppers not only learn the art of selecting these items by look, but also by touch and smell. For example, when a customer selects strawberries, our personal shoppers peek through each side of the carton. Similarly, finding the perfect pineapple or cantaloupe requires extra time – and we make the time. When our personal shoppers are gathering frozen and refrigerated items, they work quickly to select those items and return them to a designated, temperature-controlled holding area to ensure quality is not compromised.

But all the training in the world can’t account for everything. That’s where personal relationships matter.

Our promise to customers is that we’re not just here to gather their groceries. We learn their names.  Over time, we’ll get to know whether they prefer softer or firmer avocados, because we understand that texture makes a difference if you’re adding a slice to a salad or mashing it for guacamole. And as we get to know our customers more, we can begin to know which customers are fans of yellow bananas, and which opt for slightly green for a longer shelf life.

We’re in the business of saving our customers money so they can live better. In our eyes, taking grocery shopping off a customer’s growing to-do list, while ensuring quality and convenience every time – that’s definitely living better.

1 Comment

Opportunity

From Leading Soldiers to Leading Walmart Associates

Following in my father’s footsteps, I joined the Marines before I finished high school.

After returning home from two tours of duty in Somalia and Iraq, I found that similar to many veterans, I struggled with the transition to civilian life. Initially I thought I had only two options: police officer or fireman. I decided on becoming a patrolman, but there were a limited number of openings, and the salary would have made it difficult to support my family.

After much research, I decided to work in retail. I took my first position with Walmart not only because of the secure salary but also because Walmart seemed to be a company that offered equal opportunity to every kind of person. Just like the military, I would be able to prove my abilities and possibly be rewarded for high performance.

Several months after separating from the Marines, when I felt the desire to rejoin the military, Walmart encouraged me to return. I joined the Army National Guard and was eventually called back to Iraq to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was a lead sniper, in charge of training more than 200 Iraqi policemen and 15 Americans. I was responsible for teaching them everything from leadership to gathering intelligence in a combat environment.

My part in the deployment ended after mortar rounds landed preceding a serious firefight in which I suffered several injuries after mobilizing my men to safely return to camp. I was awarded the Bronze Star with valor for my leadership; however, my recovery took months of surgeries. Today, I’m legally blind in my left eye, and still have some memory issues from a traumatic brain injury. But through all those difficult times, my managers at Walmart were really supportive. They helped me work around my limitations and even flew me to Kansas City to receive the Sam Walton Hero Award in front of 5,000 people.

After my recovery, I learned how to translate my military background to the business world even further. It may sound very different, going from staff sergeant to running a grocery department, but leadership skills remain constant. It’s all about establishing routines, simplifying things for associates, leading them and understanding them. Because of that, I’ve been able to grow my career.

I was recently promoted to Fresh Operations Manager and lead more than 1,000 associates. I work in the field, teaching and training fresh operations in our stores and have remained committed to our troops by supporting Walmart’s initiative to hire veterans. I work with HR to help them understand the different military ranks and how that translates to jobs. In the last five years, Walmart has hired more than 100,000 veterans and we’re a stronger company because of it.

I like to stay involved in supporting veterans in any way I can. I co-founded Helping Hands for Freedom, a nonprofit that supports the families of wounded and fallen soldiers. Most soldiers and their families lack the kind of support I was fortunate to receive from Walmart, so we do everything we can.

It’s great knowing I work for a company that supports my involvement with veterans. My plan is to continue to grow within the company and move up to senior leadership on the grocery side of the business. I want to continue to move forward with my development and growth so I can continue to lead and develop associates across our company.

Be the first to comment on this article

Innovation

Open, Scan, Done: The Case for Walmart Pay

Thumbing through multiple gift cards at the register. Scrambling to find the one receipt you need to return an item. Trying to remember whether you need a refill for your prescription or not. We’ve all been there.

But why? We live in a digital world. We receive alerts about news breaking around the world in real time, rather than waiting for the Sunday morning newspaper. We can control temperature in our homes, lock doors and set alarms from our smartphones. So it’s time for the retail industry to step up – to allow customers to shop in new ways.

With the development of Walmart Pay – a new feature built into the Walmart mobile app that allows customers to use a smartphone to pay for in-store purchases – we weren’t focusing on payment for payment’s sake. We set out to marry our physical and digital assets to create a more seamless shopping experience for customers. We designed Walmart Pay to work with almost any smartphone and accept almost any payment type, even allowing for the integration of other mobile wallets in the future. And beginning this summer, it will work at every one of our stores across the U.S.

So, if you take a moment to activate the new Walmart Pay feature on your Walmart App, your next checkout really will be as simple as one, two, three.

If you discover the shirt you bought a few weeks ago doesn't fit, there’s no more keeping up with a paper receipt. It’s now stored electronically and at your fingertips because you’ve used Walmart Pay. Have a handful of Walmart gift cards you’ve been meaning to redeem, but hate the thought of handing them over one by one? Load your gift cards into Walmart Pay, and your balance will be ready with a single scan the next time you check out.

The best part is that none of your payment card information is stored on your phone or at the point of sale. Everything with Walmart Pay is stored in a secure, cloud-based environment. No payment credential is ever transmitted at the physical register, so you can rest easy knowing those details are safe and protected.

More than 20 million customers actively use the Walmart app each month, checking in to pick up an online order at a Walmart store, refilling pharmacy prescriptions, finding an item’s location within a store, and tapping into our popular Savings Catcher feature. When we set out to develop Walmart Pay, we’d asked ourselves how we could make shopping even faster, easier, more convenient and secure for our customers.

We’ll continue to find new ways of merging our physical and digital assets to produce a better, more convenient shopping experience. That’s what our customers demand and it’s what they deserve.

2 Comments

Opportunity

From Iraq to Egypt to the American Dream

It was an early morning in 2005, and Jalal Almomar was driving to his job with the United Nations in Baghdad. A bullet came screaming through his windshield. He was unharmed, but definitely shaken.

“I knew my family and I had to flee because extremists were everywhere,” Jalal explained. “Our lives were in danger, so we left quickly. So quickly, in fact, that many belongings – including my own wedding photos – were left behind.”

The Almomars fled to Egypt and, by 2009, made the decision to put down roots in the United States. But the American dream didn't immediately show itself. Even though he had two college degrees, Jalal quickly realized he was starting over. 

“We showed up in Michigan, without a car and without really knowing how we were going to make a living,” Jalal said. “But what I did have was ambition. I knew my degrees weren’t going to translate, but I needed to move forward. I just needed someone to open the door to give me that chance.”

Jalal spent the next six months walking as far as his legs would carry him, often times through the snow, to hand his resume to company after company. He kept his fingers crossed, and eventually, Walmart called.

“That call meant everything,” said Jalal, who gained U.S. citizenship in October 2014. “A Walmart store gave me a job working in its garden center. I was so thankful because that job allowed me to start providing for my family again. I was ready to start working my way up and, through its Lifelong Learning education programs, I realized I was going to have every opportunity to do so.”

Jalal used his ambition to not only earn promotions working in his store, but tapped into Walmart’s partnership with American Public University and earned his MBA in Global Business Management. As part of his MBA, Jalal interned with Walmart’s innovation department, and recently graduated from our Replenishment Leadership Program. He has transitioned to the corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he now works as a replenishment manager. And, with support through the Walmart Dependent Scholarship Program, his children are pursuing their own college degrees.

“All I needed was a chance, and Walmart gave that to me and so much more,” Jalal said. “It helped me realize the American dream is alive and well.”

1 Comment