How a Part-Time Job Paved the Way to a Futuristic Walmart

By Chad Mitchell
November 4, 2015
Marc Lieberman in produce

Do you remember what life was like at age 18? Were you ready to take the world by storm, or were you just hoping to graduate from high school? Perhaps you were preparing to serve your country or were setting off to explore the world.

When Marc Lieberman was 18, he was starting his freshman year of college and simply needed a job to pay the bills. He found one – working as a cashier at his local Walmart – but what he didn’t realize at the time was that his hard work would be rewarded with countless opportunities.

More than 20 years later, his part-time college job has become a career that has taken him around the country – from Missouri to New Mexico, to Arkansas, Pennsylvania and then back to Arkansas. And today, it’s made him the associate responsible for transforming the shopping experience for millions of Americans.

That’s what Marc loves most about his job as Vice President of Neighborhood Markets at Walmart: seeing a concept come to life. He’s there from the first brainstorm to the ribbon cutting on a new store –  in fact, a particularly innovative one opened just last month that gives customers plenty of reasons to say “wow!” (Don’t take my word for it; you can check it out virtually right here.)
First introduced in 1998, Walmart Neighborhood Markets are a smaller option for communities in need of a pharmacy, affordable groceries and merchandise. Marc assumed leadership of Neighborhood Markets in 2012 when there were just 173 of them in the United States. Today, there are well over 650.

A few weeks ago, I got the opportunity to walk the new store with Marc and ask him how he chose Walmart, what has kept him here for so long and what the thinking was behind the design, layout and merchandise assortment of a Walmart unlike any others you’ve seen.

Q: Why did you originally choose Walmart?
“I was attending the University of Missouri and needed a job to help pay some of the bills. Everything available paid about the same, but my dad was a big fan of Walmart, so I interviewed and started as a cashier in Store 80. I quickly got the opportunity to do a little bit of everything and liked what I saw. The next summer, I moved into the management training program, and the rest is basically history.”

Q: You’ve now been here more than 20 years. What makes this place so special?
“The focus Walmart puts on its people. My first manager, Mike Ring, saw something in me, took the time and made a decision to invest in me. That investment resulted in a great future. Every stop along the way has been a learning opportunity for me, and time and time again, I see that contributions and potential are valued over tenure. As I said, I started as a cashier, but [went on to work in] receiving, the back office, staffing and eventually each area of store operations. I then moved into a role at the Home Office as an apparel distributor despite not knowing anything about apparel. From there I worked in merchandising, marketing, and eventually ended up in real estate. So when you look at it in whole, I was given a number of opportunities to challenge myself and learn new things. It was these lessons that have prepared me for the role that I’m fortunate enough to play for Walmart today.”

Q: What’s distinctive about this new store?
“There’s so much about this store that will improve the customer experience. We’re constantly listening to the customer, and I think this store really delivers on that feedback. The design, the layout and the assortment, especially the focus on fresh [products], should all benefit our customers. This store is happy, bright easy to navigate, and with Pickup options, really helps deliver a seamless shopping experience to our customers. With that said, we’re not done yet – we’re always improving and there’s more work to be done. At the end of the day, I think we’ve failed if the customer doesn’t say ‘wow’ when they walk in our stores.”