Walmart provides a foot in the door

Karen Tuck, District Human Resources Manager at Walmart in Calgary, is always on the look-out for candidates with HR experience, no matter where that experience was acquired. So when one of her store people managers sent her the resumé of Sunmbo Durosola, a former senior HR executive at Shell in South Africa, she knew she had to meet with him.

“I reviewed his resumé and was very impressed,” says Tuck. Along with his international experience, Durosola also had a Canadian HR designation, the Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP). This showed her he had taken steps to learn Canadian workplace norms and procedures, she says.

When they met, the only job she could offer Durosola was that of store personnel manager at the Westbrook Walmart in Calgary. The job, the highest hourly position in the store, would give him the opportunity to get his foot in the door, learn the business and see what other opportunities were available.

“It was a partnership both ways. He wanted to learn and we were willing to teach,” says Tuck. One year later, Durosola became the store people manager, the equivalent of an HR generalist and a senior salaried role.

Tailored Orientation Boosts New Hire’s Success

One of the reasons Durosola was able to move into that role was Walmart’s retail academy — three weeks of courses for all new assistant and mid-level managers. Tuck also sent Durosola to train with each of her seven store people managers for one week, with each manager focusing on a particular skill set.

“Do I do that for others? Absolutely,” says Tuck. But the focus of the training will depend on the knowledge and skills of each personnel manager, so what a skilled immigrant needs to learn may differ from what a Canadian-educated employee needs to learn.

For example, one store people manager was an expert in personnel systems, an admitted weakness of Durosola, and they spent one week going over all of Walmart’s payroll and HR technology.

Mentoring Keeps High-Potential Employee Engaged

Tuck and her manager, Denise Bodnaryk, the People Operations Manager, saw Durosola’s potential and desire to grow in the organization. To help him do that, Bodnaryk is now mentoring him.

“That’s not something that’s new at Walmart. We would do it for others where we saw the need and it just so happened that this worked out perfectly for Sunmbo,” says Tuck. “It’s really satisfying his needs for that higher level understanding until a more senior role becomes available.”

Tips for Employers

  • Be willing to talk to an applicant with senior-level international experience to see if there’s a place for him in the organization and somewhere for him to grow.
  • Provide orientation and training specific to an individual’s strengths and weaknesses to boost his success in the long term.
  • A mentoring relationship with a senior executive provides the learning and networking necessary to help a newcomer move into a more senior role when the opportunity arises while keeping him engaged in his current role.

Headquartered in Mississauga, Ont., Walmart Canada operates a growing network of more than 300 stores across Canada and employs 82,000 Canadians.

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