The Many Roles of Jeff Smallwood

Career Path

This associate took the road less traveled during his Walmart career—but he sure has traveled many places!

Jeff Smallwood says about 80% to 90% of his career success with Walmart is thanks to being willing to take a chance on something new. And that’s easy to believe when you look at his resume, which covers almost four decades with the company and many different roles.

 

His career at Walmart has spanned 38 years and included five moves, plus travel to 46 of the 50 states as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, Indonesia and Mexico.

 

Today, Jeff is a customer host at Store 955 in Apopka, Florida. “I just decided, with my long career, I was ready to not have as much responsibility,” he says of his current role. “It's time to step back a little bit.”

 

The Rise of One-Hour Photos

Jeff’s career started at Store 151 in McAlester, Oklahoma, where he worked as a layaway stockman. When he’d been there for a year, his store was picked as the fifth one in the company to get a one-hour photo, and Jeff was asked to be the manager.

 

From there, Jeff would go on to be a district manager. He traveled the country installing one-hour photo centers at other Walmart locations. Eventually, he landed at the training facility in Bentonville, Arkansas, where he trained photo center managers to install and run their labs.

 

Then, for two years, he traveled to foreign countries, training associates at Walmart stores to set up and run photo labs. At first, he was worried about not speaking a foreign language. But the district managers in every country spoke English and acted as translators for him.

 

Traveling to other countries and experiencing different cultures ended up being incredibly rewarding.

 

“I would have never thought that I would have ventured out of this country. And to do it alone—talk about scary,” Jeff recalls. “But it was so worth it.”

 

Getting Behind the Camera

Another unexpected turn his career path took place when he was recruited to do photography for Walmart. His photo skills ended up taking him to a variety of company events, where he was able to meet Sam Walton and his family, as well as celebrities like Leslie Nielsen, Reba McEntire and Garth Brooks.

 

After his long stint with the photo division, Jeff also spent quite a few years as a regional leadership champion, training managers and associate managers before they went to a store.

 

Jeff believes Walmart offers plenty of opportunity for new associates, but they must be willing to work hard.

 

“If you do hard work for them, they will reward you down the road,” he says. “You’ve just got to keep giving that hard work."

 

A Look Back

His long career was not without challenges. “It does take some sacrifice at times,” he explains. “When I was in International, I was away from my family for months at a time. That's a huge sacrifice when you got kids at home.”

 

The relationships he built along the way helped propel his career. If he had a question or needed something, he could reach out to someone he knew. “That's what's so good about this company. There's so many people out there who are willing to help.”

 

Jeff is now eyeing retirement, but he hopes to spend a few more years with Walmart. “It's been a phenomenal career. I'm so proud of my company. I think I bleed blue,” he laughs.