At Walmart, the American Dream Comes to Life

Walmart Shareholders Meeting 2013

By Bill Simon, President & CEO, Walmart U.S.

June 07, 2013

Walmart Shareholders Meeting 2013

Remarks as Prepared for Bill Simon

Thank you Jessica, for your service to our country and for your leadership with our company. 

I love hearing stories like Jessica's and all the stories we've heard throughout this meeting.  Your stories. They capture what I love about this company: inside our doors each day, the American dream comes to life.

Download Hi-Res Photo

Our country was founded on the idea that, with hard work, we can achieve anything we want to achieve.  And Mr. Sam's story has been described as the classic example of that American dream.  But what's truly special about Walmart is the culture of opportunity that Mr. Sam created.  At Walmart, that dream is available to anyone.

Today, the American dream is a global concept.  It may be our country's best export, and Walmart is one of its greatest exporters.

Here you can find almost any kind of job at any level.  That's one of the fantastic things about our company – that we have such a wide range of jobs.  It's something we're proud of.  Now, just about everyone started out in an entry-level job.  I sure did. From there you have the chance to learn and grow and have a career.

Whether you are a cashier in South Africa, - a stocker in Canada, - or an assistant manager in the USA - everyone wants access to a better, fuller life.  And you can have that with Walmart.

A lot of great employers have carved out ways to attract talent. Government jobs are known for their stability.  Sales jobs often come with a chance to earn a commission.  Tech jobs come with their own set of perks.  That's their thing. 

What makes Walmart special is the opportunity. 

At Walmart U.S., on any given day there are between 15,000 and 50,000 job openings – so it's not hard to get in.  Every year, we promote about 160,000 people to jobs with more responsibilities and higher pay.  And 75% of our store management teams started as hourly associates, and they worked their way up. 

This year, we took some steps to make those opportunities even clearer.  We're ensuring all associates know what shifts are open if they want more hours, that they have priority for open positions over external candidates, and that they have visibility into supervisor roles that are available, not just in their store, but in any store in the country.

But instead of telling you about the opportunity at Walmart, let me show you.

Right now, I get to do what I love most about my job.  I'd like to ask Kristin Oliver to help me out.  Kristin is our EVP of People at Walmart U.S.  Kristin, would you please bring your guests up here?  And could you all help me welcome them to the stage? 

They don't know why they're here, and I'm sure they'd appreciate the encouragement.  Now, these two folks have been with the company a few years and both hold hourly positions in our stores. 

Mary Lou Singleton is from Pleasanton, California.  She is very dedicated to her customers, and her manager has called her "the backbone" of her store.  And Kari Grissam is from Cave Creek, Arizona.  She is very positive and supportive of her team. And her market manager says she has the best in-stock in her market. 

They've both recently applied for assistant manager positions, but they didn’t know if they’d gotten them until right now.  Congratulations, you're both being promoted!

Because of your hard work, your dedication to your customers, the high standard to which you hold yourself and others, you have both earned these promotions. Here are your new badges.  We're counting on you.  And by the way, this comes with a raise.

Now…who's next? 

Here's the amazing thing.  In the U.S. alone – in our stores, in our clubs, in our distribution centers – Walmart will promote nearly 500 people today.  Just today. And tomorrow.  And the next day and every day.  And it's happening all over the world: Mexico, Japan, Brazil, the U.K., Chile, and everywhere we are.

It's all here waiting for you.

In fact, there is more opportunity now than ever.  Because of your commitment, your innovation, and your hard work, we had an amazing year all around the world.

Because of you, our Walmart U.S. Associates, our comp sales were up last year. We added $10 billion in net sales.  We continued to gain market share in key categories.  Because of your focus we grew our U.S. operating income by 5.4%.  And we did all that while giving our customers a better shopping experience and our associates a better work experience.

The year was awesome.

Now, we are in retail.  And every year has its own set of challenges.  That's what makes it exciting.  And I am absolutely confident that we are on the right track.  We have the right strategy and the right team – this team!

So let me close with this. On the day we made our commitments to our veterans and to our associates, Hilda Rios from Store #5303 in Prescott, Arizona, wrote me a letter.  I keep it close because it's a good reminder of who we are.

She wrote: "I want to thank you for the opportunities you are giving to the people like myself that come from other countries …and that are living a dream …and that are given the opportunity to work for this great company - not because of who we know, but because of our own merits."

That's what she wrote.

That simple belief - that your merits are what matter and that if you work hard you can achieve your dreams: that's why immigrants like Hilda came to America…that's why veterans like Jessica put on the uniform…that's why Mary Lou and Kari and more than 2 million associates around the world have come to Walmart.

Toward the end of his life, Mr. Sam spoke about bringing the promise of Walmart to people around the world.  The American dream that he embodied is now a global dream.  

At Walmart, you can turn those dreams into a reality.  

That's our thing.  It's what we do. 

Here at Walmart you can go as far as your talent and your drive will take you.

So go ahead and dream big.

Thank you.