2015 Global Women’s Forum – Part 7 SVP Latriece Watkins leads a panel discussion

2015 Global Women’s Forum – Part 7 SVP Latriece Watkins leads a panel discussion


Good morning, or almost afternoon to
some of you. We are happy to be here. As a member of
the President’s Council, I remember when we started thinking about this experience, and this panel
specifically, and we talked about mentoring. It was
really important to us that authenticity in mentorship
is a key to a successful mentoring relationship. And so when we assembled this panel that
you’ll get the experience of hearing from today, what I want you to take from that — what I
want you to listen specifically for — are things like trust and transparency. Legacy. Because your mentorship can create a
legacy a relationship for you that you build on as you start to mentor
others. So, thank you for joining us today. This
fabulous panel we have with us has over 100 years of Walmart experience, and
that’s something to be proud of. And it’s something that you can trust
has lots of mentoring relationships and mentors and mentees. So without further ado, I’ll introduce
the panel. Our first panelist is Julie Murphy.
Julie Murphy has been with the company for thirty years. She started as an hourly trainee in the operations division and is now a proud
member of the President’s Council of global women leaders, and a senior vice
president. Our second panelist, executive vice president, my apology. Our
second panelist is Shana DeSmit. 23 years with the
company. Started as an hourly cashier. Worked
through operations. Has been in HR, innovation, and is now a vice president
and the local RGM. Our third panelist is Uli Correa. He’s spent 20 years in, in twenty years
with the company. He’s been in operations. He started as an
hourly associate, associate, a market manager, and now in
innovation. Our last panelist is Tonya Pullen. 15 years with the company, and is now in
merchandising, but was a store operator, store manager. and these panelists we’ve assembled have great experiences that we’d love to share with you. Thanks. Julie. Julie, you’re a leader that I am proud to say
I’m a mentee of, and I know that mentoring is very
important to you. Can you share with the audience why it’s
important to you, and what successful relationships look like? Mentoring is obviously important to
me. As a 30-year associate I have been a product of mentoring, and have had the
great fortune throughout my career for leaders to
really identify and to reach out to me as a leader and provide
those opportunities, sometimes before I even realized that I was ready for that opportunity.
And so it’s been instrumental in my career, and certainly I know and I
recognize that I would not be where I’m at today if it wasn’t for my mentors and
mentees that I’ve worked with along the way. You know, when I step back and think
about my career, there’s a mentor that stands out, and I think many of you may
know the late Dave Jackson. He was the mentor for me that actually was the
first person to promote me to store manager, and so I had the opportunity to
work with Dave in different capacities, and
what I really loved about Dave is his transparency. Right? He was always, he was always
there to give feedback. But throughout the years, whether I
directly reported to Dave or indirectly, he never lost touch with
me, and I think that really sends a message to me as you think about
legacy, and keeping touch, and making sure
that you bring our journey full circle as associates
with the company. Dave was a great example of that. And so whenever we would be in different working
divisions or parts of the company, he would stop in and check on me. A, to
make sure, Latriece, that I was doing what I had committed to do, but also just to
make sure that he was there and he would let me know that if there’s anything I needed, any advice
or any support that was necessary, that he was there too,
to help to take care that for me. You know, when I step back and look at a
relationship and mentoring, I think it’s built on trust, and it’s
really that relationship that you develop that has that foundation of trust, and you
have to get comfortable with that relationship, because it is a
two-way communication. When you think about what you’re
developing, and what you’re working on together as individuals. And I think the
transparency is critical. We often want to give feedback
that’s one dimensional and we wanna think in terms of what we
can give that is positive, but I think it’s where we grow as leaders and individuals when we have
that transparent feedback that is full functioning and provides
that opportunity and identifies some of the gaps that we
may have as leaders. That’s fantastic. You’ve shared that
legacy of leadership with some of our panelists today. Shana,
you have the next question, and you’re a beneficiary of Julie’s mentorship. Tell us the
story about how you’ve made mentoring relationships work, and how they’ve helped your career.
Thanks Latriece. I think one of the things that you have to do is
you have to commit to investing in it. And I think about mentorship as a
partnership. Really about how are you going to give
as much as you get? And so it’s an expectation, and Julie talked
about transparency, that there’s been many tough conversations I can attest to over the years. I guess
the finger I’ve been exposed to, but those conversations are
truly meant to make me better. And so we laugh about it today. Over 20
years our relationship’s been together, and
whether I was in operations, whether I was an HR she would, you know, just like she talked
about Dave, it’s about that touch. You know, high-touch communication, and
how is she gonna make sure over the course of the years that we stay connected. I think the other
thing as we as leaders are asked, we have to develop
the next generation, and so you think about how we build our
own legacy. It’s who are you developing? Who are you
investing in? You think about mentorship as tithing your time. So if I give 10
percent of my time to talent development. And it’s not to check the box. I’ve done a
mentoring circle, or I’ve had a conversation. It’s in the moment. It’s in the four foot
section in a Walmart Supercenter. It’s in a back room. It is truly high-touch, high
communication investment of your time and talents,
and I think about one particular situation as a young store manager. I had
my first store. I was very excited. It was going very smoothly. We’d just rounded the
year very happy where I was at, and Julie calls me, and she’s like “I have an
opportunity.” And in Wal-mart’s true terms of “I
have an opportunity for you” it’s I have the next challenge and that looks like a Supercenter that
had just opened up, and it was what we would classify as a
store that was struggling and they needed leadership and they
needed the investment that it was gonna take to really get involved, spend time with the
team and really develop them. And one of the things that we experienced
early on, about four months in, I wasn’t feeling good. I went to the doctor
found out I was expecting, and not only expecting, I was having twins. And you should probably call your mom or
your dad or somebody to celebrate. I’m calling Julie going “I can’t do this.” You’ve made a mistake. What am I gonna do?
This is over. I will not be able to handle it all. And she really stepped back and push me
think about myself as a leader, and she said you absolutely can do it.
We’re gonna support you, but you’ve got to lead differently. And so
the challenge was on me to think about what am I gonna do differently, and how
will I lead differently to make sure the team, in preparation for the time I’d be
away, was set up for success. And I look back
today on that on that challenge and that push. You know,
what would have happened if she didn’t say stay the course, you can do it, we’ll
support you. But also to think about how I let other
people get the experience and exposure when I thought it had to be centered around
me. Today from that team, there’s a market
manager, there’s several store managers that were in my team, whether as hourly,
or assistant managers that today have greater responsibility within our
organization. So I think it’s about just really investing,
being true to who you are, and pushing each other out there. That’s a
great answer. And Uli, I think you’re one of the
beneficiaries of the relationship both with both Shana and with Julie. Tell us
how you make mentoring relationships work, and how you
benefited from them. Yeah. I think I’ve heard that comment
before: “I have an opportunity for you.” So I think we all have heard that at one
time or another. So I think all of us can look
back into our lives, and really see those defining moments in which relationships and mentors, or whatever you want to call them has made a profound impact in our lives, and I remember as a young store
manager quite honestly not thinking much
about my future. Just happy where I was. I had a great store, great group of
associates, and here comes marching in Julie Murphy and
tells me “I have an opportunity for you.” So, with that said, that was my first experience of being challenged to be uncomfortable,
to step out of my role and start thinking about what
else do I wanna do with my career, and not only what do
I want to do with my career, but what do I want to do to leave a legacy
behind me? And who else are we going to pass that gift to?
Because quite honestly working for this company is a great gift, and I’ve been
privileged to have it for the last twenty years. And I will tell you that that was my first instance in which I was really
exposed to what it was really to step out of your
comfort zone, and really start thinking about what
else you can do. Fast-forward a few years later, and like everything else, life happens. My
children got older, they became teenagers. For circumstances of my life they form how I felt about my
relationship in my home. I made a commitment that I was going to
put my career on hold, and I was going to really
focus on being there for my children and my
wife. And, quite honestly, here comes Shana, and, like everything else, she took a
real true interest in not only what kind of store
I ran, what kind of market I ran, but she wanted to know more about me. She
wanted to know about my family, she wanted to know what made me I excited about what I did
for a living. And, even though she understood that at
that moment in my life, my kids were teenagers like I told you, and on top of that, my in-laws have come and
moved full-time with us. for us to care for them. So, as you can
see there was a lot of circumstances
happening. But the one thing that I remember the most of our relationship is
that although the time perhaps might not have
been right at that moment for a movement, she kept me challenged. She kept me
involved. She kept me connected to what was happening, and she would
never allow me to become irrelevant, and I think that’s something
that your mentor will do for you. So, I just gave you a couple examples of
what a formal mentoring relationship would that be,
but there’s also that informal relationship, which in operations
which is where I based most of my career, it’s those associates in the store, and it’s
about those those tours in the building, when you’re
touring with department managers or assistant managers, and you are not only talking about the
business, but then you’re teaching, you’re training. But even better than that
you’re learning. You’re learning about them and you’re learning about their
business and their store, and able to have those connections and
really take an interest on what else they can do. I will tell
you that that brings more value to your career than if I would’ve stayed back many
years back and just simply be happy where I was. Here’s what
I think mentoring does the most for: I think mentoring helps you do a couple
things are very important. I think that mentoring helps you paint a
path to the future. I think it also allows you to pay it
back, and the way you pay a back is by allowing
others to realize their potential as well. But I
think the most important thing at least for me, that mentoring has done in
my life is it has really created and reinforced the belief. The belief that not only I
can, the belief that I will, but yet they
believe that it’s worthwhile, and I think that when we look
at mentoring, we need to look at mentoring as a process in which we can truly have that sustainable competitive advantage
that we need to have as a company as we move into the next century.
Those are great points, Uli. I think you bring home the point that we made
earlier about the the authenticity in
relationships, and the fact that in some ways it can be personal, and and
to have those relationships it touches every part of you, because you bring your whole self to
work every day, so I appreciate you sharing those stories. Tonya, tell us a little bit about what
it’s like to be a store manager and to be the person who’s the the
leader of the store and expected to mentor and lead the whole team. Tell us about your
experiences doing that, and what it’s like to to mentor associates in your store, in
your market, or in your division when you were a store manager. Sure. So I
think back to my time of when, before I became a store manager I felt like I was gonna stay in the East
Tennessee area and that’s the only place I wanted to be. And what happened is some things
transitioned, and I realized that I needed to really open up the opportunities that
could be available for me to continue to grow my career and when I allowed that to happen, that’s
when I met Shana, who became a big influence
in my life in mentoring me, and understanding that,
you know, I could be a store manager, I could be a mom and
I could have a career and have it all. So once that happened, I became a store
manager and I learned a lot from that moment of Shana mentoring me, and one of the ways that I
learned that is she held a lot of diversity and
inclusion events throughout her whole region. And I remember one opportunity that I
had with an assistant manager that had come from outside the company,
and she didn’t feel like she knew the Walmart culture,
and how could she continue to grow her career? So what I did was ask Shana “can I bring
someone along, someone that I feel like I wanna mentor?” And that’s when we went to Uli’s
market, and they held a celebration of she. During
that time that assistant manager had taken her
name out of the hat for a promotion for a Co-Manager position, and she was on
the fence if it was the right thing to do. But during this diversity
event and inclusion event, What she stood up in front of everyone
and said is “I have the experience and I have the
tools. it doesn’t matter if I don’t know the
job.” And it was at that moment that I realized in some way of being a
mentor that I was trying to give her everything,
you know, in a earlier, we think you need everything
on that list before you can go. I learned something
then as a mentor is that as long as you’re capable, you can go to the next level. You don’t
have to know everything That assistant manager signed up for the
position. She got her promotion two weeks later, and she’s continued on with her career, and moving up in the company. I called
her this morning to ask if it was okay if I share that
story, and she said the most important thing is that you taught
me how to mentor other people, and you took
a chance on showing me how important it is to go after those dreams, and go after
goals that you have for yourself. And so with
that I would say I grew and it went both ways. She learned how to, I learned how to mentor
her and she learned to hopefully continue to grow and mentor
others. So with that I would say I look back and say how far does your influence travel? And so when you’ve set up here on this
panel you will see that not only Julie has traveled her influence but Shana continues to influence and travel and
influence us through our travels. And just like I think what is important
about mentoring is that you continue to influence those. That’s great. And Shana, you, you’ve done that in a
lot of ways not only with people who work for you but across the organization with your peers.
Talk to talk us a little bit about what it’s
like to mentor across the organization and not
necessarily just and to people who work for you, but
people who work who you work for, even. How do you, how do you do that? How,
an example of, maybe perhaps a story where you’ve done
that with Julie. Well Julie’s still a work in progress, right? No, just kidding. Yeah, but I think one of the things that
we talked about, that we’ve got transparency and we have trust, and with that, she has an expectation. She has an
expectation of me that I have to give her communication. What’s going on? How do I
keep her connected and grounded? You know, when we think we’re headed in
the right direction, and maybe we’ve missed a step, and we’ve gotta go back and we’ve got to re-communicate. I think there’s parts have it, um as I step back and I think about my
career and the way I look at mentoring, it’s not just a ladder that goes up and
down. It’s also a lattice. And so it’s about being a peer mentor.
It’s about reaching deep into the organization, whether Uli talked about the department
managers, the store managers, I mean those leaders today, you know, I could
name the store managers, the hourly associates that have mentored me,
guided me, and still today keep me connected to the business so that I am always involved and always listening. I
think the challenge for us as you think about how do you, what
do you do with it? And I remember specifically, as I was looking, as the kids had started to
grow and I was ready to grow my career from being a store manager and take that
next step, my world had changed. They’d introduced
the market teams, and so there are all these different roles, and all these different opportunities and, you
know, one of the pieces of advice I was seeking is “do I
really want to do this? Do I give up my store, right? As a store manager my keys to the building were so vital. Like, to hand
over those keys, that was, my whole world was changing, and I was gonna have to figure out what
would I get from it? What would I gain? What could I give? You know, from being an operator what
would I give back? Because I think it’s just as important from what you get is
to what you give and then how will I use it? So as I sought, you know, feedback from my
peers, store managers, whether Julie, but then did tough love that was coming back at me is
“how long will you stay, and if you really like it will you commit?”
And I think that was, you know, as we think about it so often
as we’re pushing people to go, making sure they also have on the front
side some very tough questions that they have to search their souls and
really seek about, because mentorship isn’t about hearing what you
wanna hear, it’s really truly listening to the feedback and doing something
about it. That’s very good. One of the things that that if you’ve ever been mentored by
Julie, that you know is she says feedback it’s a gift, and we don’t always
all get the gifts that we were looking for that we want, but but she describes it as a gift, so
it’s not always exactly what we want sometimes it’s tough feedback, and and you have to push each of us or your
mentees to to work harder or differently. How do you,
how do you do that? We do, and I think anyone, as you said,
that knows me and has worked with me hears me say
often that feedback is a gift and you really truly have to know and to
understand that, and to your point it isn’t always what you think you’re
going to hear when you’re going to hear it, and and sometimes it’s something maybe
you’re not prepared for but you have to know that that feedback comes from a place I
think Judith mentioned it earlier positive and, a positive intent comes from a place of
trust, because you develop that relationship, and you know and you understand where
where you are in that relationship. And I think most importantly as you’ve
heard the associates talk today that it’s a two-way street in
communication so it’s giving and it’s taking as as it relates to that feedback. But you’ve
gotta know and understand that if we are only receptive to the positive side
of the feedback that we’re not gonna grow as leaders and we’re not gonna be developed and as well-rounded as we need
to be. And so we don’t want to be
one-dimensional in giving or receiving that feedback because that’s really where we put
ourselves into a new position and we grow to take on those new
responsibilities. I think back to many of my situations and my conversations with Dave specifically where he, you know,
would pull me to the side, and I’d think I I would have thought I knew all the
answers, right? I thought I knew it, and he would pull me to the side and give me that
feedback, and say, you know, we need course correct, and I
remember one time I was a brand new store manager and I was gonna go by the book, right? We were gonna follow
the policy. What I didn’t take into consideration were my associates, and their impact, and really how they
responded or special situations, right, that you have
to be mindful of as a leader. And so that was a great learning for me
early on, to know and to understand that our
people are always at the forefront of what we do, and we need to make sure
that we’re mindful of that. We are in the retail business, but we’re also in the people business.
And as a leader that is our responsibility to make sure that we grow and that we develop as it relates to
that. And that feedback and that transparent feedback is really
what makes us grow and sets us apart. I feel
like it was a little bit of a Julie roast here today, because we talked about
a lot of all of the things that we did or didn’t do, and I think, I
think we talked about a legacy of leadership and mentorship, and and you,
have you, it’s so important to you to the
mentoring relationships that you have and its easy to take the things that you
teach any of us or all of us to our
mentees, and set expectations with them of what they should do so then they take
it to their mentees. So, it wasn’t intended to be a roast, but
it worked out just fine I think We’ll have to talk about that. The finger
comment, I need to clarify that later, but what we’ll talk about that. But, I think as you look right in the
conversation with with all of the team members here, it’s evident
that you surround yourself with great people, and you look for people with
skill sets and abilities that you don’t have. And
so, even as a 30-year associate, you know, I’m still learning, and I’m
still being mentored. So as Shana says, I am a work in progress, we’re all works in progress as it relates to that,
but that is our responsibility when we step back and think about how we’re
going to leave the company and what hands we leave the company in, I think our legacy and our people
really truly make the difference as it relates to that. So, very proud of the
group, and definitely you can see that they are
very talented individuals that know and understand the importance of
taking care of people and mentoring people along the way. It’s the most important thing we can do.
We obviously have an obligation to take care the business, but when we talked yesterday, we talked about
the impact we have on the company with the more people we
impact. So, the more we connect with each other,
the long-term impact, or the the better we have the opportunity to
make the business, because we are connecting with people
who are in some ways different than us, or better at certain things than us, and so
we get the advantage of having mentored people who get to do lots of different things,
and at the same time the beauty of it is our successes and
their successes. We have a little more time, so I’d like to get some thoughts
from you all on we talked about, Indra said, talked about
a wise and trusted advisor being being your mentor, and that in most cases,
they choose you. Sometimes there are people that
you see that you want to choose to be a mentor,
and you don’t necessarily have a good way to connect with them. What, any of the panelists, are your recommendations on thinking about “I see someone, and they
seem awesome, and they seem to be just what I
need.” ‘Cause it is an obligation on the mentee to understand what they need from
that relationship and be really thoughtful about how to benefit from the relationship, but
also how to give to the relationship. So, if there are any people on the panel who
can talk about, you see that person, you don’t know them well, how do you make
sure that you get the advantage of relationships and mentors that’ll give you a lot of the value that
that you think you need and see, and it’s not necessarily going to be that exact person, but because you
connect with lots of different people sometimes there are opportunities to get the advantages of mentorship.
Julie has a lot’s of mentees as you can tell, so even if you
can’t get to Julie, if you can get to one of us, there are lots of lessons that she’s
taught us that that we would be happy to share. That’s good. I’ll let Shana, Uli, Tonya share their thoughts, and then I’ll close. So I think that, you know, one of the
things that we can use is obviously, we have a
network that we have established. So whether
my connection is to Tanya or Shana or Julie, I think when we seek talent, and we look
for those leaders of the future, it’s not so much do you think about your
own circle, but that you’re thinking about the needs of the company, because quite honestly I’m not, I may not be
working with Shana today, or Tonya but at some point we will, we will again, that
this is a very small large company, and I think
that it is something that just keeps giving back,
and I think the more we can direct each other, and use our connections
and continue to promote those individuals who are out there they
are displaying the, those basic beliefs that we have in
our company, that we hold so dear for our customers and
associates and once we identify those people, use
that network that you have built for yourself, because believe it or not,
it’s there. I think sometimes we are more passive than we should be. But I think that utilizing that network’s
going to allow you to really reach out far more people than you’ll ever dream you can. So I know that we have done that in the
past, and it works extremely well. And quite honestly the satisfaction of
seeing someone succeed is really irreplaceable. It’s just a great
feeling to see people do more than they think they can do. I think
sometimes taking the mentoring outside of the facility, taking it outside
of the store, of going to the diversity events, when I was the store manager, most of my
team was very new, and they had never attended a lot of
the events, so a lot of mentoring began going to those diversity events, and
really reaching out and finding people if they had things in common, or they
had career goals that were in that were, that they had in common,
that would continue to connect them. So it’s very important that you
challenge yourself and your teams to get out there, and be part of the diversity and inclusion
events that happen wherever, if you’re in the field, or if
you’re here at the home office, wherever you’re at, you should partake in all of those events. You know, I think the other thing is know
what you seek, and I think Latriece, you mentioned that, but what do you
seek from that mentor/mentee relationship? Too often, people will be like
will you mentor me? And, if I ask the question “what do you
seek from me?” Because sometimes my skills
won’t work for you. That I can connect you, as Uli talked
about, to somebody else who can help fill those gaps in. But I think it’s, you’ve got to be a good
mentee, you know, advice, the feedback, all
those things that are given to you, when it’s given to you, you have to give
it away as well. Keep giving it, and the circle
continues. If you think about the amount of associates that you
personally can influence and impact, and the lives that you change, it is our
obligation and it is our opportunity to impact the
future, and it starts with us. And so you think about where we are
today, and where we will continue to be as a global company, the network is broad and we’ve got
to utilize all of our resources. The last thing that I would say, Latriece, is that it’s a choice. Choose wisely as we think about
that, whether you’re the mentor or the mentee. Make sure that you select people that
will bridge your gaps. Put yourself out there. Don’t put
yourself in a comfort zone. Make sure that you align yourself with someone that will
help you address your gaps, and sometimes that’s not easy, and it’s not comfortable, but you have to do that so that you can
grow as a leader as well. Fantastic. That’s great advice. I think we’re gonna wrap up. (applause)

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