Michelle Caraballo

My Career Path

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Army ROTC/National Guard
  • Commissioned to Active Duty
  • 1st Infantry Division, KS
  • Baghdad, Iraq
  • MBA from Capella University
  • Developmental Store Manager, Walmart
  • Assigned to Walmart Expansion Project
  • Assigned to High Volume and Expansion Project
  • Assigned to Global Business Process – China
  • Assigned to Leadership Academy

What attracted you to look at Walmart as a potential employer?

What drew me to Walmart was the stability of the company. The idea that I could start out by running an entire store and then maybe I could jump to logistics and then I could jump to marketing. I could stay with them throughout my entire career and do whatever I wanted. There were so many possibilities in such a large company that – whereas some people may have to switch careers or companies five or six times – I could legitimately do that and reach my goals all within one company. And I liked the idea of having that loyalty. That camaraderie and stability were something I was sad to leave behind in the military. Walmart offered so much more in total opportunity than any other company.

How would you describe a career at Walmart?

Is it possible to say flexible and structured at the same time? The uniqueness of being management in a store is kind of like the structure of the military. At the same time, I do whatever’s best for the job. I can run my store as if it were my own business. I have the freedom to make the right business decisions.

What made you decide to start a career with Walmart?

Walmart brought me in and took us on a tour of one of the SuperCenters. It was kind of a day in the life of a store manager, so you knew what kind of company you were getting into, and got to meet managers of all levels and ask questions. Getting that chance to know that the company was in line with where I wanted to go before I even interviewed made me really bring my “A” game because I knew this was somewhere I wanted to be.

What do Walmart and the military have in common?

Walmart and the military base everything off similar values. Military training also taught me how to jump right in and execute, which I do with 400 associates at Walmart. Often I led medics, nurses and doctors and didn’t know a thing about their jobs. At Walmart, I also know I have the right team trained under me to be the subject matter experts. The Army helped me be successful at Walmart.

How is working for Walmart allowing you to accomplish your personal and professional goals?

I’m given the flexibility to really be able to help people save money so they can live better. It’s not just a tagline. So if I notice that I’m not offering that everyday low price compared to competitors, then I can do something about it for my customers. I don’t have to run it completely up the chain. As the store manager, I can do everything I need to do to offer the best price, the best experience, the best store to our customers. That’s really what drives me. My store in itself does more business than some Fortune 500 companies.

What would you tell transitioning military members about a career at Walmart?

It’s a unique personality that can make this transition. Going from the Army to retail is a very, very big change, but if the transition is to Walmart, it is easier because of the flexibility and the structure. Also, here you can take advantage of the opportunities to do anything under one company umbrella, the flexibility to do what you need to for the customers, and the pride of being the figure who can affect people’s lives the way that we do, whether it’s for our associates or our customers.

What about working for Walmart makes you feel like you have an impact?

The impact that Walmart has is surprising. It affects almost as many people as the military does, and is second only to the U.S. government in terms of number of employees. When I worked down in North Florida, the unemployment rate was very high. People were coming in when they got paid on the 1st and 15th of the month with $5 to spend, and I had a plan of what I could get them so they could get the most for their money. Just having that impact on shopping and working with suppliers on sustainability initiatives, and donating to local organizations and getting involved in hospitals – it’s the city’s Walmart. It’s not just a store you give money to, but the store gives back as well.