Still Going Strong After 60 Years

Celebrating You; Milestones

With no plans to retire, Fernande Dubé-Deschênes loves her job every day!

If you watched the 2023 Associate Celebration, then you might recognize this smiling face as the associate who Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was seated next to at the start of the show (pictured below)! It’s Fernande Dubé-Deschênes — and she is living proof of the saying, “Do what you love, and you won’t work a day in your life.”

She is Walmart’s longest-serving active retail hourly associate worldwide. She began working at Woolworth in Granby, Quebec, on October 1, 1963 — one year after the first Walmart opened 1,452 miles away in Rogers, Arkansas. Woolworth later became Woolco and eventually, Walmart Canada.

Even as she approaches 60 years as an associate, she has no plans to retire.

“There’s nothing I don’t like about my work,” the full-time fashion associate says. “It’s not just the people I work with who I enjoy, but the customers, too.”

Let a smile be your umbrella

Customers certainly enjoy Fernande! Maybe that’s because she lives by Walmart founder Sam Walton’s words: “Lose your smile and lose all your customers.”

Fernande wears her smile to work every day and happily shares it with every associate and customer she sees.

“I always say ‘good morning’ to everyone, including the night associates,” she says. “It’s important to say ‘hi’ because people appreciate it.”

What’s her message to younger associates? “Take your time, and don’t try to rush. If you go fast, you miss out. Slow down so you can really absorb it all.”

A shining star in-store

Fernande worked in the store restaurant before taking her current role. Over the years, she was offered various roles, including fashion department manager, but declined. She didn’t want to change her daily routine, which includes a morning shower, coffee and long walks in the summer.

“What’s most impressive about Fernande is that she’s still working 35 hours a week,” Store Manager Michael Gil says. “She’s always smiling and ready to work! A real gem in our store and a great example to everyone in the store.”

Fernande enjoys seeing how her store celebrates the different seasons and holidays. By working full-time hours, she’s able to stay up to date with the exciting transformations.

In February 2022, Fernande was named Walmart Canada’s Shining Star of the Year for her local market. She says it was the greatest moment of her retail life. “It was truly an honor to receive, and I’m so proud of it,” she shares.

Are you up for the Fernande challenge?

Are you an associate who loves your job? Do you have what it takes to outlast her record retail career? Fernande challenges you to last as long as she has at Walmart.

“It’s a great place to move up in the company,” Fernande says. “It’s a really good company to work for and grow in.”

Fernande’s long and happy Walmart career serves as an inspiration. What’s her secret? “I take things one day at a time. As long as my health permits, I will keep working,” she says. “Good company, good friends — why stop?”

This was adapted from an original article by Jon Rumley, Walmart Canada Corporate Affairs.