When he started working at Walmart in 1996, Sedrick Utley was just hoping to cover some of his graduate school expenses. But the former football player found himself hooked by the energy at meetings. He also saw huge potential for growth with supercenters coming on the scene.
“In Walmart, I found that team atmosphere,” he explains. “The first meeting I went to, I was just blown away by all the cheering. It was like a big huddle.”
Sedrick was looking for a paycheck, but he found a career as well. His managers told him that if he stuck with the company and worked hard, he could become a store manager.
So while his official job was pushing carts, Sedrick made sure to spend some time inside the store, working with one of the managers to learn about food merchandising and the replenishment system. “That helped propel my career,” he says.
Eight months into the job, Sedrick was excited to learn he was chosen for a management training program. He served as a co-manager at several locations before getting his first store manager position after five years with the company. “I was high on adrenaline at that point because I was realizing my dreams!”
Paying It Forward
Today, Sedrick is a market manager and oversees 10 supercenters and has a team of 3,100 associates. He gets to pay it forward—coaching employees and helping them make the most of their potential, just as his managers once did for him. He thrives on identifying talent and putting people in positions where they can be successful.
At every orientation for new associates, Sedrick makes a pitch for Walmart careers.
“I tell my associates, this can be a career opportunity,” he says. “Whatever your desires, whatever your ambitions happen to be, you can achieve those under the umbrella that we provide here at Walmart.”
He believes that associates today can look forward to Walmart’s investment in ecommerce and omnichannel solutions—just as he was exhilarated by the potential in supercenters when he first started. “Our associates today should be as excited as I was back then, because they're on the front side of an opportunity that's going to propel this company forward,” Sedrick shares.
Whatever career path associates might pursue, Sedrick says he likes to hold himself up as a living example of someone who grew their career with Walmart.
“My story is consistent with a lot of the Walmart managers as far as growing up through the company,” he explains. “Because someone planted a seed in me, and they believed that I could achieve something that I didn't know was possible.”