After starting his career in the sustainability industry, Justin Robertson, a DARE program alumnus, understands the importance of social responsibility in the retail space. After completing the DARE program, Justin is now a Store Manager, responsible for a $60 Million Walmart store with over 250 employees. He credits his success to not only the DARE program but the company culture, philanthropic vision and meaningful employment at Walmart Canada. We had the chance the speak with Justin and Community Giving and Sustainability experts, Erin Mackey and Andrew Telfer to learn more.
First Impressions of the DARE Program
The DARE program was created for high-potential talent to learn about Walmart and the business, as early in their career as possible. Real-world learning and experience coupled with the ability to explore various aspects of the business is invaluable for new grads to be a part of.
Before starting the DARE program, Justin worked in the sustainability industry. He was looking for a way to hatch his career in business and thought that this would be a great way to learn “from a cross-functional, 360-degree standpoint”, he says. “Since Walmart is the largest publicly traded company in the world, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get into a truly global business”, Justin adds.
Strong Culture and Core Values
As soon as Justin started the DARE program, he was immersed in the Walmart culture. “One of the first things we learn in the DARE program is that it’s not just about getting the end result. It’s not just the what, it’s also about the how.” The Walmart way is about integrating their core values in every aspect of the business and the interactions their people have with each other. “At Walmart you can knock on the CEO’s door and have a quick chat with them. The door is always open”, Justin shares.
DARE candidates are supported throughout their time in DARE through a mentorship program where they’re paired with a Senior Walmart business leader. These mentors offer guidance, advice, act as a sounding board for ideas and help candidates learn from their challenges and celebrate successes!
Importance of Giving Back
Walmart’s mission is to create opportunities, so people can live better and consider it their responsibility to make a positive impact in the communities they serve. “Companies have a responsibility to give back to the communities where they operate. Walmart believes it’s important to build stronger communities across Canada and get our employees engaged along the way”, says Erin Mackey, Manager of Community Giving. Walmart’s philanthropic vision and strong culture are some of the many reasons Erin has been with the company for her entire career of over 24 years.
Since 1994, Walmart has raised and donated more than $230 million for Canadian charities and non-profit organizations. From a Field Operations level, Justin loves being able to give back to his local community through community grants. “It’s important from a national standpoint that we support larger charities who are doing great work, but from a local standpoint, it’s so great to be able to contribute”, he says. Walmart partners with 4 major national charities: Children’s Miracle Network, Canadian Red Cross, Breakfast Club of Canada and Food Banks Canada.
Part of giving back is also being sustainable. “Sustainability falls under a larger umbrella called Responsibility”, says Andrew Telfer, Manager of Sustainability. Walmart believes in enhancing the sustainability of operations and global value chains, but also in the everyday work environment. “That’s really what sustainability is all about – embedding it across the entire business in both operations and culture”, Andrew adds. Through this strong internal culture and way of approaching sustainability, Walmart has aspirational sustainability goals to create zero waste, to be supplied by 100% renewable energy and to sell products that sustain people and the environment.
Walmart employees are encouraged to give back to their local communities by volunteering their time as well as fundraising initiatives. “There’s really something for everybody. We’re mindful that people are busy doing their primary role. Every facility, whether it’s a DC or a store or head office, has charity committees to volunteer when they can”, Erin says.
When it comes to sustainability, Walmart encourages their staff to approach their role with sustainable impact in mind. “Whatever your role is at Walmart Canada, we encourage you to do it from a sustainability lens”, Andrew says. “Because Walmart has such a large sustainability culture, you are encouraged to come up with your own sustainability ideas in your role.”
With Walmart’s dedication to people, culture, community, and development, it’s no surprise that the Walmart DARE program won the Best Grad Program award in the 2018 TalentEgg National Campus Recruitment Excellence Awards, voted by Canadian students! “Through the DARE program, students just a couple years out of school can have the chance to run a $60-80 million-dollar business”, says Justin. His best advice? “Be students of the business. Be curious and ask questions about the entire retail business and how Walmart operates. Really understand the culture aspect and how your past experiences and personal values align with Walmart.”