When an Icon Retires

Career Path

After 43 years building a successful career and network of relationships, Lisa leaves a remarkable legacy.

Lisa Smith smiling at the camera

When Lisa Smith announced she’d be retiring in May 2024, her supervisor Cortney Reinhart needed time to process the news. Lisa is, as Cortney says, an “icon.”

And what happens when a Walmart “icon” retires? Naturally, we reflect on a long and successful career. For Lisa, it’s a career that started when she was 19 years old, working as an evening salesclerk at Store 231 in Ada, Oklahoma.

She worked her way through various store positions and stores before moving to the Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas. There, she served on the first Point of Sale Replenishment Team, helping stores transition to using scan data to restock merchandise instead of relying on department managers to place orders.

Her longest-held role was at Sam’s Club, where Lisa moved in 1992 to become a business support manager. “When my boss and I moved to the Sam’s Club Home Office, we were the only associates in Sam’s that had personal computers!”

She eventually returned to the Walmart Home Office to be a project manager. Now, she’s retiring from a senior program manager role.

Retirement is also a moment to celebrate achievements and milestones — both professional and personal.

Lisa considers her marriage of over 40 years one of her greatest achievements. When she met her husband, he was in Walmart’s assistant manager training program. Over the years, the couple moved to work at different Walmart stores as they grew their family. “I couldn’t have achieved what I have without an amazing support system of family and friends!”

And in 2009, in what she says was the highlight of her career, Lisa was awarded the Sam M. Walton Award of Excellence. Also known as the Blue Coat Award, this honor celebrates Sam’s Club associates who exemplify our cultural ideals every day: service to the customer, respect for the individual, striving for excellence and acting with integrity.

Perhaps most importantly for an icon like Lisa, retirement is also when we think about legacy — our impact and what we leave in our footsteps.

Cortney shares, “Even for people who’ve only been on the team for a short period of time, Lisa has made such an impact on their lives. She has been an incubator for others and she’s definitely leaving behind a very strong legacy.”

In fact, Cortney is a large part of that legacy. Sixteen years ago, Lisa hired Cortney. Four years ago, Lisa joined Cortney’s team. “I knew right away I had made a great hiring decision,” recalls Lisa. “I remember telling Cortney that I had no doubt that she could be my boss someday, and here we are.”

“It makes me so proud that I get to retire under her leadership,” Lisa says. “Some people may be uncomfortable working for someone that they hired, but that’s what makes the story special: I’m so proud to work for her! She’s like my ‘work daughter.’”  

Cortney adds, “Lisa is very humble, but she's top talent. I've had the opportunity to see Lisa speak in front of enormous audiences and influence at very high levels of executive leadership. I was thrilled and honored to have her on my team.”

Throughout her career, Lisa found that investing in relationships made a difference. “People move around a lot in Walmart,” says Lisa. “So when you build a relationship, and make it strong and lasting, most likely people will come back through your career at some point.”

With 43 years at Walmart and Sam’s, Lisa built a large and meaningful network of connections and friendships. “I came from a very humble background. Walmart has allowed me to make a broader impact across Walmart, across the company, across the country and even the globe.”

What’s next for Lisa? Helping out with grandkids, working on her pollinator garden, supporting her husband (who continues to work as a Walmart supplier) and, yes, keeping up with her friendships.

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