When I was a student at the University of Indiana, my Walmart job was simply a way of paying bills. After graduation, I was encouraged by my store managers to stay, as they saw promise in me. Thirteen years later, I’m still here. So I fully understand the opportunity that exists to start a career.
Today I’m a co-manager at a supercenter in Beech Grove, Indiana, and it’s awesome to watch others take that same journey. One young woman I recently crossed paths with – Kinder Kaur – is the most passionate associate I’ve ever met. Recently she worked her way up to managing an entire department.
Rewind this story back to 2006. Kinder was a first-generation immigrant from India here with her husband and son trying to make a better life. She worked in an audiovisual business that her husband owned and also as a restaurant server for two and a half years. Next, she got experience in retail as she worked in their family-owned convenience store. Wanting a change, Kinder decided to come to Walmart. She started in our back room, unloading and stocking inventory.
It’s hard work, but Kinder excelled. Her attention to detail made her stand out. Seeing this, I thought she would be a good candidate to try something new: being out on the floor. While she was nervous, with a little support from her team she was ready.
Fast-forward to last fall, and Kinder was shining. She loves being out on the floor interacting with customers, and her sharp eye really matters in the beauty department, where smaller items like nail polish and hair dye need to be meticulously organized.
Not too long ago, our store manager encouraged all of us to apply to enter the company’s new Academy program, where associates can receive extra training that better equips them to help customers. Kinder was a natural candidate, and after completing the program, she participated in her first graduation.
In Kinder’s native India, graduation ceremonies aren’t common. Although she completed high school, she had never worn a cap and gown. Putting on these pieces was an extremely proud moment for Kinder and her family. Her son, Gurpreet, who works in electronics at Walmart, also graduated with his mother. It was awesome to see such a great day of celebration for their family!
Everyone I see return from the Academies training is more excited and attentive than before. They’ve returned with a fresh mindset about how to take care of customers. These Academy locations are opening nationwide almost every week, and soon there will be thousands of associates who’ve graduated.
The Academies program is empowering associates across the country to take charge of their careers. But even better, it’s harnessing the passion of people like Kinder, which is a huge step forward in also transforming our shopping experience.