Our Future Shines at the 2022 Associates Celebration

Associates Week 2022

We highlight a star-studded celebration where associates sparkled the brightest.

Early in the morning on Friday, June 3, associates and leadership from around the country and the globe filled Bud Walton Arena for the 2022 Associates Celebration.

Donna Morris (pictured below), EVP and Chief People Officer of Walmart, kicked off the morning’s festivities with the Walmart cheer. The entire arena was positively brimming with excitement.

“The last two years have underscored how truly special it is when you can physically be together,” Donna reflected.


Next, Donna introduced Jeremy Butler, Entertainment Team Associate at Store 69 in Festus, Missouri, who sang a beautiful rendition of the national anthem (pictured below).

Dr. John Wig, Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer, then joined Donna on stage to recognize the incredible accomplishments associates have made in the fight against COVID-19 over the past two and a half years.


“Walmart has administered tens of millions of vaccines to help protect against COVID-19 where people are already shopping for groceries and health care essentials,” Dr. Wig said, to thunderous applause.


And the energy only got higher from there, as our Walmart Associate Talent Search winners took to the stage in a block party-style performance that gave each winner their moments to shine.


Check out Wilmer Torres, cashier at Club 6690 in Ponce, Puerto Rico, making his stage debut (pictured below).

Clogging duo and twin sisters Tatianna Page and Natasha Taylor, both based in the Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, impressed the audience with their beat (pictured below).

From dancing and singing to beatboxing and clogging, the WATS winners took to the stage like fish to water.


Next, this year’s surprise host was revealed: James Corden!

Amid James’ tall tales of partying with Doug McMillon, President and CEO, and Greg Penner, Chairman of the Walmart Board of Directors, were nuggets of truth: “Walmart is focused on the future. There are so many exciting initiatives that will make you all proud,” said James, citing our Live Better U program.


Following the jokes, Greg gave a dignified and gracious speech. He reflected on what it means to be here 60 years after Mr. Sam opened the first Walmart store. There were other important points Greg wanted to be sure everyone took away from the meeting:


“First, I’m really proud of what you and all of our associates have accomplished these last two years,” said Greg (pictured below).

“I saw how tirelessly you all worked through the pandemic, not only to keep our core retail business operating, but at the same time accelerating the transformation of our business and serving customers in new ways.”


Greg reminded us of the importance of adapting. “Remember that change—trying new things—is part of our culture. I know it’s not always easy, trust me,” said Greg.


Next, it was time for Sam’s Club associates to make some noise for Sam’s Club President and CEO, Kath McLay (pictured below). She stressed that associates are what keeps us moving forward.

“We’re coming off two of the most successful years in our history. But that was then. This is now. While we have momentum, we need to keep this thing spinning. How do we do that? You do that,” she confirmed.


With our member-obsessed culture, the future is bright for Sam’s Club!


Kath recognized the clever ways Sam’s Club associates drive sales, with a shoutout to Timothy Hope and Dallas Callaway from Club 4770 in Evans, Colorado, for their TikTok video.


Kudos went to Mark Strayer, Ben Ford and Johan Rundberg, for developing Scan & Ship functionality for members.


And for her tireless work serving the underserved, 2021 Pharmacist of the Year, Melanie Loftus stood for a hearty round of applause (pictured below).

“Thank you, Melanie,” said Kath. “Not only do your members love you, but your community clearly loves you, too.”


James Corden returned to introduce renowned mentalist, Lior Suchard. “They brought him here to make high prices disappear,” joked James.


From guessing the name of an associate’s first kiss and other feats, Lior wowed us with his mysterious gift.

Blessed Muganhu, Food Sales Manager at Store M07 in Durban, South Africa, introduced Judith McKenna, President and CEO of Walmart International, to speak to their achievements.


Judith (pictured below) welcomed teams from all over the world and reflected on all that has happened in the past two years, saying, “We've changed a huge amount, in ways large and small. But the things that haven't changed are just as important.”

Quoting Sam Walton, she reminded us, “’If we work together, we’ll give the world an opportunity to see what it’s like to save and have a better life.’ That’s pretty cool.”


Citing a few examples of how associates around the world have made this happen, she called on Guilherme Loureiro, CEO of Walmex, to explain how their service Bait brought internet to 3.3 million people who previously were not able to access it. “This is life-changing for many people,” said Gui (pictured below). “And we're really proud of being there for them.”

Chile’s 1ko enterprise that promotes creative talent within underprivileged areas of Santiago, and Flipkart’s commitment to inclusion were other inspiring examples.


“Inclusion is part of who we are,” Judith reminded us. “And while we celebrate all that makes us different, we also celebrate the ways we are the same. You are part of a team that is 2.3 million people strong, in 24 countries around the world. And you really do make the difference for our customers, communities and each other.”


Next, all eyes turned to legendary musical guest Jon Batiste for a performance that lifted us up.

The mood turned serious for a moment, as James Corden returned to announce the retirement of Brett Biggs, EVP and CFO. “When I hosted this event in 2016, I held Brett,” said James.

“It left a mark on me, and I know it left a mark on him,” he teased. They shared another warm embrace—perhaps for longer than Brett bargained for! “You smell the same way you did in 2016,” joked James.


Brett took James’ fond farewell in stride!

DeMaurius McMillian, Deli Bakery Associate, of Store 3162 in Orlando, Florida, invited Walmart U.S. President and CEO John Furner (pictured below) to the stage. John took us on a journey through the decades, placing Walmart’s eras of development within a greater historical context.

“The reason we’re here today, is that as customers kept changing, Walmart chose to innovate,” said John. Fast-forward to our current decade, and John recognizes how associates took that innovative spirit to the next level.


Amid the pandemic, innovation drove Walmart forward. “We were able to play a major role in keeping an entire country fed, healthy, safe,” John said. “We’ve always said our people make the difference. And our people — YOU! — REALLY made the difference.”

Greg returned to the stage and introduced Jim, Rob, Alice and Steuart Walton who announced the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneurs of the Year. Congratulations to the ReliOn™ NovoLog® Insulin Team! The launch of the first-ever private brand analog insulin revolutionized access and affordability to diabetes care by offering customers a significant price savings without compromising quality. Stephanie Adams, Colin Brainard, Michael Burke, James Johnson, Carla Landon, Jonathan Leonard, Marilee McInnis, Dana Ponczek and Nick Tallman were invited on stage to be recognized.


“They truly represent what it means to help people save money and live better,” said Rob.

After more feats from the confounding Lior Suchard, we were further inspired by the story of two Walmart drivers who feed those in need during disasters. Greg Carter of TO 6817 in Seymour, Indiana, and Rickey Oliver of TO 6811 in Brookhaven, Mississippi, shared how much it means to them for Walmart to provide hot meals to communities. “For me to wear this uniform for 32 years...it’s a big thing,” said Greg, with tears in his eyes.


Greg and Rickey introduced CEO Doug McMillon, who asked drivers in the audience to stand and be recognized.


Next, a cinematic journey narrated by Doug—and it was truly one-of-a-kind.


“I love movies!” he exclaimed. “If the story of Walmart were a movie, it would be a sweeping epic that starts with a few lead characters: Sam, Helen and Bud.”

Describing the family’s trials, Doug summed it up: “Our path forward wasn’t safe or easy. But most things worth doing aren’t. No one told us retail would be easy, but it is great.”


As we approach 60 years of Walmart on July 2—of which Doug has been around for over half(!)—he is looking forward. “I've seen us accomplish a lot. But I truly believe we're just getting started.”


Doug reminded us, the only thing that is constant at Walmart is change.


“You all are transforming this company for the customer and for the future,” Doug told us. “You and your fellow associates, in the U.S. alone, volunteer close to 1,000 hours a day to causes you care about.


“This type of work is not extracurricular. It’s woven into the way we do business,” Doug reminded us.


“While our work on sustainability and our use of technology are vital and exciting, it’ll be the human connection you create that truly makes us special and different,” Doug said.


And what better way to illustrate this than to recognize some stellar associates? Stars emerged (literally!) on stage to show examples of associates who made a difference.


Alysha Hale, Pharmacy Manager at Store 1236 In Goldsboro, North Carolina, went out of her way to vaccinate people on farms, in churches and across the community. Thanks to Alysha (pictured below) and her team, more than 1,500 people chose to get vaccinated.

“She reached people who wouldn’t have otherwise had an opportunity,” Doug said.


And who could forget the ever-festive Eleanor Barnett, front-end associate at Store 2139 in Lynn, Massachusetts, who Doug asked to take a selfie with before thanking her. “I hope you’re all having fun at work, just like Eleanor,” he said. Learn more about Eleanor in our Walmart World profile about her.

Improving the lives of others with her giving spirit, Caitlin Jamieson, co-manager at Store 3037 In Hamilton, Ontario, uses sign language to communicate with deaf customers, delivered turkeys to families for Christmas and helps women transition from homelessness to better lives. “She’s a great example of making a difference,” said Doug. “Here’s your star.”


But they aren’t the only stars.


Doug said, “the good news is our movie is just getting started and you’re the stars. You’re the heroes. You’ve all earned your star on our Walk of Fame.”


And speaking of stars, what better way to end than a performance by surprise musical guests, the Jonas Brothers. They closed our Associates Week out with a bang.

You can watch the replay of the event in the Walmart World group on Workplace.

Catch up on all the news from Associates Week 2023.