Fernando’s career path shows how education, opportunity and drive combine to spark great success!
It was 23 years ago when Fernando Martinez started working as a cashier and cart pusher at Store 479 in Altus, Oklahoma. He was in college and trying to make the payments on his truck. Hired as a temporary worker for the holidays, he ended up staying with the company and crafting a career.
Over the years, Fernando moved from Store 479 to Walmart’s Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he spent 10 years. He even took on extended engagements in Brazil and Argentina.
Since 2012, Fernando has been based in San Francisco, where he is now a director of Information Security with Walmart Global Tech. It’s a long way from the small town in Oklahoma where he started. But, Fernando says, he’s always had the passion to keep growing and moving forward.
“I've always been very eager,” he says. “I want to be challenged. I like to learn what I'm doing and learn it well. And then once I’ve learned it, I'm ready to do something different.”
Always Moving Forward
Throughout his journey at Walmart, he’s lived by this motto: If you don't ask, you don't know.
“I would say, ‘Here's what I would like to do… Is there an opportunity? Do you think this is something that you could help me with?’ And along the way in my career, I've always found individuals that were willing to listen and invest in me."
That includes a manager in Altus who sent Fernando’s resume to the Home Office in Bentonville to see if Fernando, who was taking some computer science courses, could get a job there.
Fernando was offered an hourly position on the graveyard shift with the operations department in Bentonville. He took two semesters off college—partly to give himself time to learn his new role and partly so he would qualify for in-state tuition in Arkansas.
“I decided to go back to school and get my bachelor's degree in information systems.”
He was still working from 7 p.m to 7 a.m., three days on and then three days off, so adding a full load of classes to the mix meant losing some sleep.
“I really pushed myself,” he says. As the son of Mexican immigrants, Fernando would be the first person in his family to earn a college degree. It was a milestone that helped inspire him to work through the challenges. “When I went to the Walmart Home Office, I really saw the opportunity that formal education provides.”
Asking for Opportunities
Even as his college graduation neared, Fernando was looking ahead. He was already a Walmart associate in operations, but he asked his boss if he could get an internship working for a different department—network engineering. His manager said yes.
“I got to experience the whole intern program at Walmart. Typically, if you're an associate already, you don't get that experience,” he explains. But it happened because he saw the opportunity and asked, and Walmart saw his potential.
“I asked for the opportunity. And they said yes.”
Walmart worked around his college schedule so he could attend classes during the day and then start work as soon as he was done.
Fernando believes that, “they made the decision to say, ‘Hey, we have a student, we need to help them out. We need him to continue his career here at Walmart. He’s valued.’ After I graduated, they extended a full-time offer.”
It seems Fernando’s motto has served him well on his journey from cashier in Oklahoma to director of Information Security in San Francisco. If you don’t ask, you don’t know.
Want to read more about Fernando’s story? Check out his tips for advancing in your career and flexing your leadership skills.