Full-Circle Success

Career Path

From hourly associate to global group director, Cortney’s career path carries a lesson in Walmart leadership.

Lisa and Cortney standing next to each other smiling at the camera

Great leaders often see something in you that you don’t yet see in yourself. That’s exactly what happened 16 years ago when Lisa Smith (above, left) interviewed Cortney Reinhart (above, right) for an hourly associate position.

“I remember telling Cortney that I had no doubt she could be my boss someday. I knew I had made a great hiring decision,” says Lisa, who is retiring from Walmart after 43 years. 

“At the time, I thought Lisa was just being kind because she lifted everybody up,” Cortney recalls. “She definitely saw something in me that I was not seeing in myself quite yet.”

Almost immediately, Lisa enrolled Cortney in the project management training program called Lean Six Sigma.  “She took a chance on me,” Cortney says. “I became one of about 50 Lean Six Sigma Black Belts in the entire company. It really set the trajectory for my career.”

For Walmart leaders like Lisa, seeing a spark in new hires is one of the joys of her job. “I hired someone who was smarter than me, and I’ll take a little credit for teaching her our culture early in her career,” Lisa says. “It makes me so proud that she has continued to develop, grow, and keep the culture strong.”

Cortney’s Career Path

Cortney is the first person in her family to go to college. She joined Walmart for a better quality of life and a chance to grow. “Walmart offers so many ways to upskill and educate yourself through professional certifications,” Cortney says. “You can constantly learn more, evolve and change your career.”

Through the years, she was promoted to roles in industrial engineering and on other innovation teams. Her work involved using technology to improve customer experience, save time, and save money. She kept learning and growing with new roles, and even got her product certification from Northwestern University.

Eventually, Cortney landed her current role: Group Director of Corporate Affairs Products in Global Technology. Her team identifies problems that customers or online users experience and finds the best tech or process to solve them.

As she reflects on Cortney’s journey, Lisa says, “It’s so cool that our company opens so many doors for our associates! She started as an hourly associate 16 years ago and has advanced to Group Director in Global Tech without a tech background!”

A Full-Circle Moment

Lisa and Cortney stayed in touch throughout the years and, in 2020, Lisa’s prediction came true: She applied for a role on Cortney’s team. She shares that it felt like coming home, working for a leader she knew and trusted.

“It was a very full-circle moment!” Cortney recalls.

When Lisa told Cortney she planned to retire in May 2024, it was hard news to hear. “Lisa has mentored and developed so many associates, including me,” Cortney says. “She's definitely going to be missed, but I'm going to find ways to bring her back to share her wisdom with everybody.”

Lisa admits, “Sometimes I don’t understand why associates look up to me. I'm always shocked when they say I've impacted their lives already, in a really short time.”

Cortney understands why. “Lisa is an icon,” she says. “Lisa taught all of us to carry ourselves with professionalism and to take care of the company and the people that we're serving,” she says. “She has made such a big impact.”

Honoring Lisa’s legacy, Cortney is ready to pay it forward — shaping the next wave of Walmart leaders with grace and wisdom.

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