Walmart is where we all go to get milk, vitamins, office supplies, socks, and toys for the kids. We see our neighbors, our friends and family at Walmart. In fact, 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart!
For Walmart associates, the possibilities for advancement are endless - whatever your passion is - you can do it as a Walmart associate. More than 75% of Walmart US store operations salaried managers started as hourly associates. Walmart also employs pilots, chefs, relators, gardeners, lawyers, truck drivers and many more. Sam Walton said, “you don’t have to change companies to change careers”. If you want more education - Walmart covers that too! They offer college degrees for $1 a day for hourly associates through their "Live Better U".
There are 1.6 million Walmart associates in the United States working in various positions -either helping customers in stores or at Walmart's home office located in Bentonville, Arkansas. While there are 5 Toastmaster's Club in Bentonville for Walmart home office associates, Walmart Pacific Northwest Toastmasters is the first club for associates in the field.
The Walmart Pacific Northwest Toastmasters Club is a closed corporate club consisting of store leadership and market teams. Store leadership, including Store Managers and Coaches, work in stores in neighborhoods across the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, N. Idaho), Alaska and Hawaii leading a team of coaches and associates to provide merchandise and enjoyable store experience for customers. Market teams are a group of managers that support 10-12 stores in their "market". Their positions include store operations (how well does the store operate stocking merchandise and assisting customers), human resources (supporting associates in various areas of need), asset protection (involved in minimizing losses to the company's profit), digital operations (working with our website online and apps to increase sales and customer experience, and health and wellness (working with pharmacy and optical healthcare associates). Market team members are a liaison between home office and the field - or the stores. To support the stores, Market team members travel often between stores and are "always on the go".
During the past year, our virtual world has increased due to the pandemic and virtual platforms are embraced and encouraged more than ever. This has proven to be a great opportunity for a club with members always on the move! Club members can come together twice a month, on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday to speak and provide encouragement and growth to each other.
While Walmart provides many opportunities for career advancements, the resources for development often fall on the individual. This is where I saw an opportunity to unite the two. In the fall of 2020, Toastmaster and Walmart Market Health and Wellness Director, Amy Este reached out to leadership about the idea of a Walmart Toastmasters club. With Toastmaster's platform of leadership and self-development, it was an easy sell. With leadership on board, the next step was to find charter members. Emails were sent to market teams and store managers leading to 27 chartering members!
The club found itself on the fast track to sponsoring with the help of Rose Kirland and Amy Este as sponsors. They gathered the documents and Walmart Pacific Northwest chartered on January 19th, 2021.
Our first meeting on February 10th was a huge success with the help from many of our experienced Toastmasters in District 49. Willie Jones as guest speaker invited members to "Lean In".
Chartering a new club is both challenging and rewarding experience. Members are growing at each meeting and look forward to bringing the Toastmaster life to the Walmart world.
Special thanks to Mitch Blocker and Mary Irwin for their encouragement to start a new club; to Rose Kirland for helping to sponsor the club, Sherry Imamura-Ryan for mentoring new members and to Gloria Shishido, Dean Masai, Nelson Nakagawa and Willie Jones for participating in the demo meeting.
By Amy Este, R.Ph., Walmart Market Health and Wellness Director, Hawaii Market 470