'At Walmart, we are engaged in a significant transformation of talent acquisition'
Amy leads the effort to attract market-making talent to Walmart, the Fortune #1 company. Previously, she led the Global Human Resources Advisory Practice at Heidrick & Struggles, where she focused on senior level searches across industry and advised clients in the areas of HR transformation, talent management program strategy and execution, and onboarding.
Prior to joining the Firm, Amy was a Product Director at Dun & Bradstreet, managing a portfolio of risk management products and services. Earlier, Amy spent six years at Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in the design and implementation of leadership development programs and competency-based human capital systems, including selection and recruitment, and post-merger integrations for both public and private organizations.
Amy earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Business from the University of Rochester. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources Management and has a certificate in executive coaching.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
Do you think the demands on HR leaders from the CEOs have shifted from support to being truly anchored in the business?
HR has become a true unlock to the strategy of organizations. This is not new, but it’s become more widely accepted by CEOs and Boards alike that the people function is a critical enabler to achieving company objectives. As a result, the demands on HR leaders have shifted from support to being truly anchored in the business. The commercial mindset of an HR leader is not discretionary; it’s a must-have.
Do you think attracting and hiring talent in a candidate-driven job market is tougher than ever?
There are always companies with great jobs out there, and so the more difficult activity is retaining great talent, particularly in today’s competitive labor market, where the most talented people have a lot of choices. In some ways, with the use of technology, recruiting is easier. But you can only systematize so much – it is still about the personal touch. I would say that hasn’t changed, but some of the tools have made our jobs easier. Also, generally, people prioritize a company’s purpose and culture with family, health concerns, and financial needs, more than they used to. That means we are constantly asking ourselves how we can tell our story and share our purpose.
There are always companies with great jobs out there, and so the more difficult activity is retaining great talent, particularly in today’s competitive labor market, where the most talented people have a lot of choices
What are the top strategies that you follow at Walmart to win the war for top talent?
We always strive for consistency. When we hire candidates we’re really clear about what we stand for—we communicate our values, hiring goals and keep candidates informed during the hiring process. We encourage slates of diverse candidates and encourage managers to hire people who are different to them because diverse perspectives help make us stronger. We have certainly seen the benefits of inclusion and diversity at Walmart. We also ask about real-life experiences and dig deep into what candidates have done and how they did it. We also identify and hire for key personality traits. For example, at Walmart altruism is a key trait that managers look for. Many of our officers score high in altruism. It is core to our culture of customer service. As I mentioned earlier, we also strive to tell our story well. Candidates will be more inclined to apply if they’ve heard about what Walmart is doing.
How can HR organizations leverage the power of agile practices in recruitment and hiring?
Walmart is keenly focused on building an agile mindset throughout the company, in every function, including HR. I think the test and learn mentality and the agile mindset in HR are where we can become more product enabled, move faster and infuse our function with innovation. In our TA team, we created a test-and-learn function to pilot innovation before rolling it out to our hiring of tens of thousands of individuals.
What are some of the hiring strategies that you follow at Walmart to identify soft skills?
We use behavioral interviews to understand how people lead and manage through change and transformation, which are constants at Walmart. We also use assessments to understand a candidate’s strengths so we can tap into that when they come on board. By using data and technology, our goal is to mitigate against unconscious bias. In fact, we are very focused on ensuring that whatever we do does not have any adverse impact on candidates or infuse bias into the process.
Talent acquisition in the future will be a highly data-driven, more proactive function than it is today. We already see the benefits of using all types of data to make a difference
Do you have a plan on transforming your talent acquisition strategy to improve the overall hiring experience for the candidates?
We are engaged in a significant transformation of talent acquisition that will focus on the candidate experience, similar to how we focus on the customer experience. We also want to make sure we are delivering for today’s business needs and, at the same time, hiring for the future of retail. It’s exciting to be at the Fortune #1 company that is reshaping the retail landscape. Talent Acquisition is working lock-step with the business in that rapid evolution of how we meet our customers where they are today and in the future.
How do you see the future of talent acquisition?
Talent Acquisition in the future will be a highly data-driven, more proactive function than it is today. We already see the benefits of using all types of data to make a difference. It’s including the data and hard analysis together with the human, unquantifiable approach that drives successful talent acquisition. At the same time, the humanity of recruiting will not be replaced. The biggest challenges are in keeping the bar really high in all the ways in which we interact with people – making sure we are always reinforcing our employer and customer brand.