Walmart U.S. COO Gisel Ruiz Honored at 2013 Hispanic Federation Annual Gala

2013 Hispanic Federation Annual Gala

April 11, 2013

2013 Hispanic Federation Annual Gala

Transcript of remarks

Gracias, y buenas noches a todos.

I am incredibly grateful for this award. It still feels very strange to me to be in front of over 600 people to receive this award for anything.  I consider myself as a small town girl from the San Joaquin Valley in California! So this is a tremendous honor. 

Jose Calderon, muchimas gracias and congratulations on 1 year. Thank you for your leadership and your sacrifice and your guidance. Ramon Pineda, Indrani, board members and distinguished guests, from the bottom of my heart, Thank you. 

Being recognized by the Hispanic Federation and by all of you is particularly poignant.  Because, for me, it symbolizes the appreciation of my family, mi raza, mi cultura. And very little means more to me than their love and support, their unconditional love and support - el apoyo -  unconditional.  It’s because of them and their conviction in me, that’s why I am here today.

And this award, specifically, means the world to me. El Premio Orgullo, Pride.  It is something I’ve grown to learn a lot about.  Thanks to my parents Pilar y Martha, I have come to understand the value in myself, mi valor, and the value in others.  They taught me the difference, the very narrow difference between pride and arrogance.  They’ve also instilled in me the sense of responsibility as citizens to instill pride in my children, to instill pride in my Latino community.  

What it didn’t mention in the video is that my journey began in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley in California. You see that’s where my parents met and fell in love, working in the fields. 

They always told me that I could achieve anything that I ever wanted, that the only barriers that were in front of me were the barriers that I would create myself. You see my wonderful and beautiful mother that you saw on the screen, she has a 6 th grade education.  My father never went to school a day in his life.  But that didn’t matter.  Because, their fierce determination and passion for creating a better life for my sister and I, their strong faith in God and their love in their family, that’s what gave them the drive to work harder and achieve even more.  

I am the daughter of two field workers.  I’m 42 years old.  I’m a woman and I’m a Latina.  And after 20 years of being in my wonderful company, Walmart, and beginning my career as an hourly trainee in management, I stand before you today as the Chief Operating Officer of Walmart US. (Standing applause)  I’m the first-ever female and Latina to hold the title.  It’s something that most people may think, may imagine, as not possible.

But it IS possible.  Because of organizations like yours, people like you, because of my beloved parents, but also because of companies like Walmart.  Because of what we are able to accomplish together, together with organizations like the Hispanic Federation.

I am very proud of my story.  I’m proud of my roots and I am proud of how far I’ve come.  And if that’s not enough, I LOVE my job, I do…I love my job. Every day…I get to help people.  The 200 million customers that walk in our stores every day.  The 1.2 million associates in the U.S. who help run our stores every day, several of whom are represented tonight.   Many of them who are Latinos who want more, who dream of more and who deserve more.  

I am so lucky to work for Walmart.  And like everyone here in this room and just like the Hispanic Federation, We care about Latinos.  We care about the challenges that we face as a community.  We care about making their lives better, our lives better. 

And Walmart is inviting all businesses, all companies, to make a difference not in rhetoric but in action, by providing good jobs, by providing scholarships, career opportunities. 

And this is what I want you to remember about tonight, that every company here, every individual can make a difference in the world today. It doesn’t have to be about scale, it doesn’t have to be about global.  What matters is that we take action, that we strive for more not only for our generation but for future generations of Latinos.

I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have at Walmart to help people’s lives be better. 

But I have to tell you that at the end of the day, what really matters to me the most is how to I translate my experience and the opportunities that I have had to my two daughters. That I translate it in a way that helps them shape the way that they are becoming young women.

And it’s people like you that serve as the example, you serve as the role model …you’re proof that individuals with a sense of purpose can drive change.

So when I get back home tomorrow, to Northwest Arkansas, and I’m tucking my girls into bed, I will  share with them my experience, my time with you and remind them of what’s possible for them and for their children.

You have moments in life, just like this, where you feel incredibly lucky … proud to be Latino.  And I want to share with you that tonight, tonight is one of those nights for me.

Thank you all for what you are doing to build brighter futures for Latinos in our great country.

Have a great evening!