Social Media is Doug McMillon’s Yellow Notepad

Hearing our long-term associates share stories about Sam Walton is one of my favorite things about working at Walmart.

Almost every week for more than 30 years, he’d put on his trucker cap, grab his yellow notepad and hit the road, stopping at stores, clubs and distribution centers all over the country to recognize the great work our associates were doing and ask them for feedback on how to better serve our customers.

Sam understood the importance of appreciating and listening to our associates, and his yellow notepad became a symbol central to Walmart’s culture. Our CEO Doug McMillon saw it firsthand when he started his career at Walmart, unloading trucks at a warehouse in 1984. He wanted to keep the spirit of these practices alive 30 years later, when he stepped into Sam’s old office to lead this great company.

Like most of us, Doug takes his smartphone wherever he goes. And he has often remarked to me how blown away he is by how technology is enabling people to connect and share ideas like never before, across generations and continents and language barriers. 

Sam would have loved it. It’s one of the big reasons Doug joined Instagram last year.

Since then, Doug has traveled all over the world, visiting stores and meeting associates who are growing their careers with Walmart and doing great things for our customers in the process. And he’s shared many of their stories on Instagram.

Doug met Jeff at Store #564 in Oklahoma City, a true merchant who anticipated the spring seasonal needs of our customers. He met Tori at our Neighborhood Market in Bedford, Texas, who had recently been promoted to assistant manager and was doing a fantastic job. He spent time with the team in our Network Operations Center in Sunnyvale, California, who help make sure our website and apps deliver a great shopping experience for our customers around the globe. He got to share the stage with Purple Heart recipient Staff Sgt. Patrick Shannon from our Fishers, Indiana, store, who has since been promoted to lead a team of more than 1,000 people. He highlights those and many other stories in a new ad.

This May, Doug joined Facebook, too. It’s been awesome to see him connect with our associates and customers there, to get their feedback on what we’re doing right and what we could be doing better.

There’s more than one way to describe Walmart. We're a retailer and we’re a logistics company. We’re buyers and merchants. We’re a people business and a technology firm. Everything is connected, but our associates and customers are at the heart of it all. That’s why I’m excited to see Doug using Instagram and Facebook to share the great work we’re doing and to hear the ideas and feedback of associates and customers alike. We should all embrace innovation. Just like Sam did.

Our notepad may look different today, but what it represents will never change.



Through Academies, Bettering Careers and Customer Service

I joined Walmart 13 years ago because the opportunity seemed limitless. I started as an overnight stocker and worked my way up to a number of different positions in operations. And this year, I made another move to a job I never saw coming but that has since been so right for me.

In February, I transitioned from the sales floor to leading a team of nine trainers responsible for Walmart’s first training academy, housed within a Walmart Supercenter in Carrollton, Texas. The idea was to create a program that brings together department managers from 18 stores in the area for up to two weeks of structured training by a dedicated staff.

Walmart has always had great people. The challenge has been the right balance of instructional and hands-on training to ensure everyone is on the same page. There’s a why to every single thing we do – and it helps to discuss the reasons in person. Customer service is critical, so Walmart is making a major investment in training academies like ours to ensure a consistently positive in-store experience for customers and a rewarding career path for associates.

This is not a temporary thing. My store went through several months of rigorous preparations and training just to become a certified academy. A portion of the building has been permanently renovated into dedicated classroom space, complete with flat-screen monitors and iPads for every associate in the program. The space is equipped to serve up to 68 associates at a time. We’ll first focus on the deli, bakery, produce and meat departments, but later we’ll bring in managers across the entire store. There will be a mix of interactive classroom sessions and hands-on store experience.

A second Academy recently opened in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and a third opened afterward in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with more locations opening the rest of this year. By the end of 2017, more than 200 Academies – each one drawing students from an average of 26 area stores – will be open across the country, training an estimated 140,000 associates annually. Each location has been chosen to make it convenient for the majority of students to commute to and from the training sessions.

It's a whole new experience and the feedback from associates has been overwhelmingly positive so far. I’ve made my career in our stores, so I know the value and the need for something like this. Leading this academy really plays to my greatest strengths. It's so rewarding to be a part of paying it forward.

In the end, it's about putting people in a position to advance and succeed – not only in their own careers, but in creating an outstanding shopping experience for the customers who shop with us each day.



One Year Later: How Walmart Has Invested in People

A little more than year ago, our CEO Doug McMillon shared the exciting news that we’re doing even more to invest in our people. As we head into the second year of our $2.7 billion investment in higher wages, training and education, we’ve made a lot of progress, and I’m pleased to share this update.

Developing our people and creating opportunities for long-term career success is truly one of the most important things we do. And we know that if we take care of our associates, they’ll take care of our customers. As our people grow and succeed, so does Walmart.

In fact, on Friday we launched the third of 200 planned Walmart training academies. Over two weeks, department managers and hourly supervisors will participate in immersive training in the classroom and on the sales floor, which will further develop their skills to run great departments, lead people and deliver a top-notch customer experience.  We’ll be rolling these out across the U.S. this year.

Check out the highlights below on several other ways we’ve invested in people over the past year.



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.



How GEDWorks Boosted My Career and Earning Potential

It was always something in the back of my mind. So the fact that I acted on it and now have my GED certificate is a huge weight off my shoulders. And new doors are already opening.

I’ve always enjoyed learning, but I never felt comfortable in the traditional classroom setting. I dropped out during my junior year of high school and tried an online school program, but didn’t finish. Around that same time, I moved from California to Florida and started working at the Walmart store in Lakeland. I enjoyed the people I was working with and felt like I was making a difference. 

Last year, I came across some information about the new GEDWorks program, where Walmart was offering associates, like me, an opportunity to earn their high school equivalency. There was no out-of-pocket cost and a personal advisor was assigned to help guide me. There was also a rewards program for milestones achieved along the way.

I'd always intended to go back and earn my diploma or high school equivalency, but this new program made doing it an easy decision. Don't get me wrong, I had to put in the work. But a handful of months later, that hard work earned me a GED certificate.

At first, it provided a sense of pride because, at age 21, I had something on paper that proved I could do it. The skills I gained immediately opened new doors. First, I earned a promotion to bakery department manager, where I have added responsibility and I’m earning more money.

A year ago, I wasn’t even thinking about college. But I have that opportunity now. After several months in my new supervisor position, I can earn free college credits for my in-store experience. And I can use those credits to get a jump on my college degree, while continuing to work. Through partnerships with accredited colleges and universities, Walmart offers online and traditional higher education opportunities for associates. That’s something I’m already taking a serious look at.

I feel like I’ve found my place and that I’m going somewhere. I can see myself as a co-manager or store manager some day. I’ve always had the support. Now I have the confidence.