There’s Power in Representing Your Community

Celebrating You

Jessica Schaff knows the value of diversity and opportunity. 

There’s no set formula for success. Often, taking the next step just means trying something new. 

Jessica Schaff knows that well. Now a vice president of merchandising in furniture and mattresses at Walmart, Jessica has experience all over the retail world. But despite the breadth of her experience, there remains a common denominator: curiosity. 

Walmart World spoke with Jessica and got her perspective on everything from diversity in the workplace to career development.

“Every experience has the potential to open the door”

Jessica began her retail career at Starbucks in a path that should sound familiar to many long-tenured Walmart associates. She went in looking for a job — and accidentally launched a career. After time spent at Target and Netflix, she came to Walmart ready to apply everything she’d learned. 

“You simply never know what will set you on ‘the path,’” Jessica says. “Every experience has the potential to open the door to something totally unexpected.” 

“I’m always asking how to be inclusive in my own community”

Jessica is more than just an officer at Walmart. She’s also a Korean American and proud member of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. And as we celebrate AAPI Heritage Month throughout May, we’re also celebrating Walmart leaders who embody inclusion. 

“I’m always asking how to be inclusive in my own community, and that applies to everything I do,” Jessica says. It’s that starting point that informs her leadership style. In taking a wide lens to inclusion, she’s seen the value of partnership and varied perspectives in every facet of her work.  

“Curiosity is key”

“To succeed as a merchant, you have to stay interested,” Jessica explains. “Curiosity is key, and that means getting out of your own bubble — keeping open eyes and ears and building partnerships to push you forward. The whole unit has to work together!” 

Jessica takes the same approach then talking about opportunity at Walmart. The gist: Work with everyone and anyone, and you’re sure to learn something. 

“Nowhere I’ve worked comes close to what Walmart offers when it comes to opportunity. Our scale is such an incredible advantage in terms of advancement,” Jessica says. “That’s where you lean into your partners and have those curiosity conversations: Express interest in new opportunities, lead with empathy, and you’re sure to see growth.” 

Representation is so powerful”

Now in a leadership position, Jessica appreciates the value of conversations that lead to growth, especially for members of often underrepresented communities like her own. She doesn’t shy away from that truth — and what it’s meant in her own career. 

“I haven’t had many leaders who look like me,” Jessica says. “I spent some of my early adult life trying not to be different, and then I realized the impact I could have by more fully embracing myself.” 

That same sentiment of self-acceptance guides Jessica’s advice to associates across the company, but especially at the store level, where Walmart associates represent the communities they’re part of every day.

“Representation is so powerful, and you can express that as much as you want,” Jessica says. “And especially our store associates, they have added responsibility in representing what our customers look like! Our store associates are our frontline representatives. They’re responsible for how people see Walmart, and we want that view to be diverse.”