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.

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Business

Meet the Mother-Daughter Team Behind the Season’s Happiest Planner

There’s something about fall that feels like a second New Year. With back-to-school season in full swing, we’re all gearing up with new schedules and new goals to carry us through December.

Most of the time, those new goals are a clear signal that it’s time to get organized – and maybe even a little inspired. That’s something mother-daughter duo Terri Gick and Stephanie Fleming have been doing professionally for almost 20 years in their hometown of Fountain Valley, California.

When Terri and Stephanie first launched their brand of scrapbooking accessories, Me & My Big Ideas, it was just a small operation carried out of Stephanie’s own garage.

“At the start, we were just looking to start something new,” Stephanie said. “My mom was in the craft industry for 25 years and had just sold her company, and we both wanted to do something creative and to start a business. We saw that scrapbooking was on the rise and there was a need for a product – fun, decorative stickers – that just wasn’t out there.”

Over the last 20 years, the business has grown from a small, out-of-home venture to a full business operation in a 60,000-square-foot facility. After hiring a designer to develop their first 12 sticker designs, Terri and Stephanie quickly realized the importance of investing in their niche community of women with a dual passion for organization and inspiration, and decided to expand their team.

“Something we’ve done really well – as neither of us is an actual artist – is build an amazing team of designers,” Terri said. “It’s helped us forecast what the contemporary creative woman is doing, and ways in which we’re able to participate in her journey. We ask ourselves, ‘Is there a missing piece in the market we could fill to help that person live creatively?’”

The two have since expanded their product line to include The Happy Planner, a product that’s on our shelves now and through the fall that’s chock-full of customizable calendars to get you organized according to your goals and positive mantras to keep you going when your days get full.

“It’s a product that combines a love for creativity with a need for organization,” Stephanie said. “Our customer base is about 98% female, and as female entrepreneurs, we’ve found that we have the ability to forge an instant connection with them. It’s a real blessing.”

For Stephanie, that engagement with passionate customers has been one of the most rewarding aspects of building her business. She’s become personally invested in the growing community of creative women looking for engaging ways to organize their lives, even speaking to a convention of 1,300 women looking to connect.

“Through our business, we haven’t stopped at making a product or even just a brand – we’re able to become a part of the culture and connect with some really amazing women with similar interests. And that’s really special.”

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Opportunity

Surprise, You’re Promoted! Meet Associate Tanaka Chikerema

When Tanaka Chikerema walked into Bud Walton Arena on Friday morning, he was already anticipating the moment he would walk on stage in front of thousands of his fellow associates –he just never expected that Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., would offer him a promotion when he did.

It’s pretty unusual for a CEO to promote one of his field associates on stage in front of an international audience. But then again, so is the path that led Tanaka from the capital city of Harare, Zimbabwe all the way to a stage in Northwest Arkansas.

“I was seven when my mom moved to the U.S.,” Tanaka recalls, “and I was just starting high school in Harare when she called and said it was time for me and my brother to move to Plano, Texas.”

In Zimbabwe, Tanaka’s mother, Dorcus, supported her family as a geography teacher. But economic hardships that still affect the country today created a system of poverty and crime, and she knew that even with a college education her children wouldn’t get the opportunities they deserved if they stayed in Harare.

Over the next seven years, Dorcus earned her nursing degree overseas while supporting her family with the income from three jobs.

“We were all living in one house together, my grandparents, cousins, brother and me,” said Tanaka. “To send any of us to school, there had to be a choice about who it was going to be. My mom knew that if we stayed in Harare, there was a good chance we could end up on the streets or getting into trouble.

“She always told us, ‘I just want you to stay focused. I just want you to have goals and stay on track.’”

When Tanaka graduated from high school in Plano, his mother’s words stuck with him. A job as a part-time truck unloader at his local Walmart quickly advanced as his managers recognized his potential. Within a year, Tanaka was promoted to supervisor. The words of his first mentor, Joe Riviera, still stick with him today: “If you show up and give 110%, it will pay off. It will always pay off.”

And it did. On stage at Walmart’s Associate Meeting, in front of thousands of his colleagues, Tanaka was promoted to a store support manager and recognized for the hours of energy and focus he’s dedicated to the company.

“It humbles me to think about how good my life is now,” Tanaka said, “and how much further I have to go. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that my mom was always right: ‘Get ready for the future, because you never know what it might hold.’”

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Innovation

Meet Waymo, Your New Self-Driving Grocery Chauffeur

Think back 10 years ago when shopping online for your groceries seemed like something only the Jetsons did. Today, it’s everywhere. Walmart is leading the way with more than 1,500 locations with hundreds more to come just this year.

Now, think about self-driving cars. They still seem really far off to me … but they aren’t. They’re on roads today, without drivers.

We’re always thinking of ways we can serve our customers now and into the future. And we’re looking at different technology and capabilities that keep customers loving the time-saving, wallet-saving service that is Online Grocery for years to come. So, enter a small pilot project we’re running with Waymo, formerly known as Google’s self-driving car project.

Waymo is a self-driving technology company with a mission to make it safe and easy for everyone to get around – without the need for anyone in the driver’s seat. They’ve safely self-driven over 8 million miles on roads across 25 U.S. cities already. We’re working with them on an online grocery pilot project – limited to a group within Waymo’s 400 daily users known as "early riders"– that will run out of one Walmart store in Chandler, Arizona.

Those in the pilot simply place an Online Grocery Pickup order at walmart.com/grocery. Our personal shoppers get to work meticulously picking customers’ orders based on their pickup times. Waymo does the rest. They transport customers to and from pickup, and all the while, those customers can text, nap, work... you name it.

The purpose of all of this: to learn. While giving customers a unique experience with amazing technology, we’re learning how we can make Walmart Online Grocery Pickup even more convenient. Waymo’s experience, industry leading technology and mission on safety is helping us enter this space in the right way.

We’re excited to see what this pilot and the future hold.

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Life

Video: How This Special Olympian Found Her Power

Elizabeth "Liz" Hubert, 22, is a seasoned competitor.

She got into powerlifting about eight years ago. Since then, she’s competed at state, national and world events with the Special Olympics. Most recently, she represented Oklahoma at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games held July 1-6 in Seattle.

When Liz isn’t training, she works in the bakery at the Catoosa, Oklahoma, supercenter. She was one of at least 14 associates who participated in the games this year. Her fellow Walmart Special Olympians ranged in age from 21 to 51 and competed in a variety of events, including softball, bowling, shot put and running.

Liz competed for four golds this year in deadlift, squat, bench press and overall combined. It was a weighty goal – she can lift more than 200 pounds in the deadlift alone.

Watch below to follow Liz on her 2018 Special Olympics journey.

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