Community

How DisasterRecovery360 is Revolutionizing Relief Efforts

Editor’s Note: Good360’s disaster recovery platform is playing a major role in relief efforts for those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Read more here and learn how you can help at good360.org/flint.

As a director at Good360 – a nonpartisan nonprofit working to connect companies that have products with nonprofits that need them – getting out of bed in the morning is never a difficult task. In 2014 alone, we distributed 4 million diapers, 10,000 mattresses and 8,000 cartons of clothing, shoes and accessories to hundreds of thousands of people via our network of more than 40,000 nonprofits in communities across the U.S.

Our work is about making a difference in the lives of people in need. In doing so, Good360 has provided relief in response to nearly every natural disaster since the turn of the century – Hurricane Katrina included. It’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come as a nation in building disaster preparedness and resiliency, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact, our eyes were opened to the mountain of opportunity that still exists when we learned the following disaster-related philanthropy stats:

  • A lack of coordinated communication creates chaos, resulting in 60% of donated goods ending up in landfills.
  • The wrong goods are often sent at the wrong time, preventing critical supplies from reaching the people who need them.
  • Because 80% of all donations occur within the first six weeks after a disaster, a lack of sustained giving impedes and delays recovery of communities.

After we let those numbing statistics sink in a bit, we asked ourselves a question. What if technology existed to allow our network of nonprofits – which range from food banks and after-school programs to advocacy groups and veterans organizations – to use a mobile app to communicate the specific needs of the communities they serve in real time in the days, months and years following a natural or man-made disaster?

A few short years ago, that question represented an idea. But through continuous research, trial and error – and financial support from organizations like Walmart and the UPS Foundation – we’ve turned that idea into reality. With DisasterRecovery360, we’ve developed a new technology platform to help ensure the right donated goods get to the right people at the right time until the affected communities are fully recovered. The online platform: 

  • Provides nonprofits working at the site of a disaster with access to a free DisasterRecovery360 mobile app, enabling them to immediately begin identifying their product needs
  • Publishes those needs to the DisasterRecovery360 platform so companies can learn quickly how they can help disaster relief efforts
  • Updates companies as needs change over time
  • Shares stories about how donations are used and how they’re helping
  • Enables Good360 to store, stage and deliver critically needed goods to the right place at the right time through its network of logistics, warehousing and distribution partners

In addition to communicating real-time needs to companies, the tool also aims to help minimize unsolicited donations by connecting individuals with nonprofit organizations in their own communities that have specific needs.

Our excitement is through the roof because this platform has the potential to revolutionize disaster philanthropy in the U.S. – and eventually, around the world. But, just because the tool exists doesn't mean the problem will be solved overnight. On Aug. 21, we’ll be demonstrating DisasterRecovery360 in New Orleans, and following with trainings in Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Wichita, Kan. We’ll remain relentless in our efforts to market and train organizations across the country on the tool, because ensuring the right products end up in the right places expedites the recovery of communities.

And that’s something we can all rally around.    

Be the first to comment on this article

Innovation

Tracking Turkey: New Tech Tells the Farm-to-Table Story

Taking that first bite of Grandma’s green bean casserole made from your family’s secret recipe. Watching football with your Uncle Bob who falls asleep before half time. Giving thanks around the dinner table with family.

These moments give us Thanksgiving Day stories to tell for future generations. But as we enjoy that feast and time with loved ones, there is another story to be told – one that starts with a family of farmers laying feed for their turkeys.

As the senior buyer for turkeys and hams, I’m excited about helping make Thanksgiving meals even better. We believe customers shouldn’t have to choose between products that are affordable or good for the environment, so we are working with suppliers like Cargill to offer items that are good for families, communities and the planet. Part of that is providing customers with easy access to information, which gives them peace of mind that they are purchasing the best products for their families this holiday.

For the first time this Thanksgiving, we’re testing new blockchain technology on packaging of Fresh Honeysuckle White® turkeys, in the Texas area, allowing customers to get the full story behind the star of their meal by tracing their turkey from a family farm to their table.

This turkey technology is innovative, but also pretty simple. You just go to Walmart and pick out a turkey, then text or enter the package’s code at HoneysuckleWhite.com, where you’ll see stories of the family farmers who raised your specific turkey. You’ll also see a message directly from the farmer.

Customer desire for more information led to the development of this blockchain-based solution for turkeys. In 2014, the Honeysuckle White brand found that 44% of turkey consumers think it’s important for companies to be transparent in their practices. Studies in 2016 showed 73% of consumers feel positively about companies that are transparent about where and how their products are made, grown or raised. And more than half of consumers consider farmers one of the most-trusted sources on food-related issues. This year, the Honeysuckle White brand held focus groups that confirmed consumers feel good about buying turkeys raised by family farmers.

It’s important for us to work with suppliers to drive transparency in the supply chain and share information with our customers. Cargill will use the pilot as an opportunity to learn more about the value of traceability in its turkey supply chain. And this test is a great example of an answer to our customer’s needs. Having worked for Walmart for more than 26 years, I still get excited about finding new products and innovations for our customers. Trust and transparency is a huge part of it, and this turkey test is only the beginning.

For more information on these turkeys, the farmers and the blockchain technology, click here.

Be the first to comment on this article

Community

Acre for Acre Promise Preserves Nature for Generations

As a parent of four young children, watching their reaction to seeing a family of deer walking through a shallow stream will always be one of my fondest memories.

The smiles, giggles and amazement on their faces: It was nature in its purest form and something I hope to be able to experience with my children’s children one day.

Conserving one acre of wildlife habitat for every acre of land Walmart developed was the goal of Acres for America, which was founded in 2005 by a partnership with Walmart and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. That was a commitment of $35 million over 10 years.

That original goal has turned into one of the most impressive collaborations in U.S. land conversation history. In 2015, Walmart renewed its commitment to the program by contributing an additional $35 million over 10 years, with a goal of protecting an additional 1 million acres across the nation. And now the program is creating eight new land conservation projects across Hawaii, Northern California, Southern California, Montana, Texas, Michigan, Minnesota and North Carolina, which will protect and connect wildlife habitats across more than 100,000 acres through $3.8 million in grants and $81.2 million in matching contributions.

The 2017 grants include a rare native Hawaiian forest, longleaf pines in Texas and sustainably harvested forestlands in Minnesota and Montana. They protect ancient redwoods in northern California as well as 1,600 year old bald cypress trees in North Carolina, the oldest known trees east of the Mississippi River.

I’m excited that Walmart is working through their Acres for America program to ensure those beautiful habitats are around for generations to come – one acre at a time.

4 Comments

Opportunity

These Vets Helped Each Other - Now They Pay it Forward

For veterans leaving the military, transitioning to civilian life can be a challenge, but Jarred Crabtree and Jeff Kowalik are determined to make it a little bit easier.

The two met in the U.S. Army, where Jeff was Jarred’s lead drill sergeant in basic training. An injury sent Jarred home earlier than he’d anticipated, but the two kept in touch over social media. When Jarred learned his former drill sergeant was leaving the Army, he knew he had to reach out.

Jarred had made the transition from military to civilian life twice before. After a time in the Army and seven years in law enforcement, he had become a market manager for Walmart’s Oklahoma City stores. He was still at Walmart when he rejoined the Army and met Jeff in 2010.

“When I injured myself, it was devastating,” Jarred said. “But the group of veterans when I came back was so supportive, I immediately felt better – like I could put all my energy and skills back into my job here.”

After 18 years in the Army, Jeff was medically retired and having the all-too-common experience of struggling to find...

Posted by Walmart Today on Sunday, July 30, 2017

Jarred wanted other veterans to experience the same kind of support and community he had, so he invited Jeff to come tour one of his stores in Oklahoma City, where they had several developmental co-manager positions open.

“I couldn’t think of anyone better for the role,” Jarred said. “I remembered Jeff’s leadership skills and his ability to lead diverse groups of people. He had the skill sets we needed.”

During his 18 years in the Army, Jeff had never had to look for a job. “When you leave the military, you have to remember how to do everything again,” he said. At Walmart, Jeff had to learn a new lingo and a new role, but he said it goes hand in hand with what he learned in the military. “The leadership, how hard you have to work, the service – there’s an honor behind what you do here.”

Jeff and Jarred are passionate about having other veterans join their teams at Walmart. They know the value veterans bring: professionalism, adaptability, teamwork, problem solving and ingrained leadership skills.

“If you want a job, all you have to do is come apply. You don’t have to start at the top, but with dedication and hard work, you’re going to move up,” Jarred said. “There’s so much opportunity, and it’s not just on the sales floor. With all the positions we have, whether it’s in operations, support, merchandising – when people realize what’s available, they’re amazed. You can lead people, and that’s what Jeff and I get to do every day.”

Now, Jeff mentors his team members at Walmart and in the broader veteran community. He works with the Veteran Support Foundation, which supports various veteran projects across the country, including helping homeless and disabled service members. He also maintains the veterans’ appreciation board at the front of his store, a photo display that recognizes associates who have served in any of the military branches.

“There’s a brotherhood and sisterhood that ties you together,” Jeff said. “When I came to Walmart, it was extremely heartwarming to know I had someone like Jarred, who was also military and also a leader above me who I could learn from.”

Jeff and his family have since moved to Houston, where he’s a co-manager of a Walmart supercenter, and his wife Jennifer is an assistant manager at another supercenter nearby. Meanwhile, Jarred was promoted to a director of implementation and sustainment. That means he’s now the main point of contact for Walmart’s central division of stores to ensure they’re operating successfully. But both veterans are taking what they learned and continuing to encourage other veterans around the country.

“Don’t give up,” Jarred said. “That’s the biggest message I’d want to get across to other veterans: there’s something out there for you. Ask questions. Don’t just apply online – come visit the store. Come talk to us, because you’ll find more people like me and Jeff who want you working with us.”

Be the first to comment on this article

Opportunity

Military Service Means Success for Three Tech Associates

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.

4 Comments