Military Service Means Success for Three Tech Associates

By Walmart Staff
November 9, 2017
Veteran associate standing in front of a military plane

Improvise, adapt and overcome.

These three words — the unofficial slogan of the Marines — have particular meaning to those who serve our country. And as military personnel transition to civilian life, they can apply these same words to their careers.

Walmart has always valued the skills military experience provides and how well those translate to the world of retail. We even made a commitment in 2015 to hire 250,000 more veterans by the end of 2020.

With the technology field growing fast, companies are looking for qualified people to fill roles. And there’s a highly talented workforce of veterans who can fill them. From building information networks in Afghanistan to managing vast amounts of data for a whole branch of the military, these experiences are easily transferable to the corporate world – and quite valuable.

But what specifically, makes a veteran successful in a technology career? According to Dennielle Matsumoto, a Walmart Technology senior systems engineer for the cloud, and Jon Fox, a data scientist at for Walmart, it’s collaboration, problem solving and agility.

Collaboration

In his analytical roles with the military, Jon collaborated on many projects with various units to help them make the most of the data at their disposal. One of the most valuable insights he gained is that true collaboration requires strong relationships rather than technical expertise.

“You have to demonstrate your credibility,” Jon said. “You have to establish your rapport with the organization you’re supporting or the organization that’s supporting you.”

When he came to work at Walmart, Jon noticed that the company and its suppliers depended on active collaboration to deliver on the retailer’s promise of saving money and living better. “The data shared between the supplier and Walmart allows our buyers to make better decisions to help reduce the cost of goods we provide to our customers,” Jon said.

For Dennielle, her experience supporting marine air operations in the Navy helps her collaborate with multiple teams at Walmart Technology. Her team works on networking automation, configuring networks for a cloud environment and improving cloud security. “My job is to prioritize workloads and talk to users of our cloud services to determine what they need,” Dennielle noted. “Being a product owner, I don’t have to necessarily know coding or the finite details, but I do need to have a higher-level view of my products and be able to collaborate with different types of stakeholders.”

Problem solving

Pop-culture portrayals of military decision-making depict a rigid and hierarchical process with little room for creative thinking. But in real life, the military cultivates diverse viewpoints, devoting ample resources to testing a breadth of solutions to select the best one. In the military, this process is known as course of action (COA) development. “You develop those three or four courses of action and generate criteria for how you’re going to evaluate each one. Then you rate each alternative against those criteria, and you end up with a recommended course of action,” Jon said.

COA decision making has aided Walmart Technology in recruiting data analytics associates in new ways. Jon says he’s excited to continue promoting this model to decision makers across the organization.

Agility

Agility is a critical skill, both for soldiers on the battlefield and for tech professionals in a rapidly changing industry.

“In the military, you need to be more flexible to change and take that change and produce something that gets the mission accomplished, or in this case, a product,” Dennielle said. “Being agile comes down to [face-to-face] communication and being engaged daily with our team.”

There are few settings where the stakes are higher than in the military, where new information often needs to be used in real time. So Jon wasn’t intimidated to take an analytics role at a company with dozens of petabytes (that’s 1 million gigabytes or almost 4,000 256 GB smartphones) of stored data. “Walmart has a lot of data. In my last job in the military, one of our platforms produced 14 petabytes a day,” Jon said.

Finding your fit

For Shonna Secrest, who came to Walmart after working with post-traumatic stress disorder patients at the Fort Sam Houston military hospital, service provided a sense of humility and the ingredients to become a successful leader. “[Service] made me responsible and accountable and gave me a high level of integrity,” she said. “It gave me the leadership skills I needed to succeed and it kept me humble — once you get broken down mentally and physically and then built back up, you learn to be humble.”

After starting as a project manager in security, Shonna is now a senior manager, helping test and provide quality assurance for software throughout the company. She credits her eight years in the military for her success. “I love the culture here — you have a service mindset that’s embedded in you where you’re not afraid to pull your sleeves up, help others and keep track of the goal.”

Few companies match the size and scale of Walmart, but it’s not a stretch to see how close the military compares. From managing massive amounts of data to large logistics operations or rallying a team to work as one, veterans already have the know-how and it’s a natural fit for the work we do. We’re honored to have many associates who are veterans and we’re proud to focus on hiring more.

With our commitment, Walmart guarantees a position to any eligible U.S. veteran honorably discharged within their first 12 months off active duty. Check out our careers site to see what positions are currently available.