2015 Global Women’s Forum – Part 4 SVP Carmen Bauza leads a panel discussion

2015 Global Women’s Forum – Part 4 SVP Carmen Bauza leads a panel discussion


Well, Aida, thank you very much for sharing
your thoughts, and that moment of truth that I think
everybody can relate to. Most of us, probably, in the room
can, and Doug, thank you for sharing that you have
been able to spend the time with your family, and with your
children and did not miss a beat, as it relates to the upbringing
and the ability to be able to be with them.
So, thank you for sharing that, and buenas dias, good morning, everybody! So, we’re excited about this
opportunity, and you’re gonna see something in here that is going to be
really exciting. This is really technology coming together. Something I’ve
never done before, so we’re gonna be experiencing this together, but I’m
really excited because I have an incredible group a panelists and not all of them are here. I’m used to
doing panels, interviews with everybody present, right? So while this wonderful
staff is setting this up, I’m just gonna read a little bit about the panelists
that are going to be joining me here in a few minutes. Okay? So, starting with Fawn Germer, a subject matter expert on leadership
and performance dynamics, she’s a nationally-acclaimed reporter. She’s
also an author of eight books, and a four-time
nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. Fawn is going to be joining us from Raleigh,
North Carolina. Hello, Fawn! (applause) We are great. Alright, we’re also gonna be
joined by Melinda Allen, who is on my far-left. Alright,
Melinda is a 27-year Walmart associate. She started as a part-time cashier
while attending college. In 2011, Melinda decided to take on
her most important role of all, which was to be a single mother by
choice. And tomorrow, actually, her daughter will
be four years old. So, happy birthday, Catlin Grace, I
believe. Next is going to be Jay and Michelle Mealing. This is our, they represent, they are a working couple
here at Walmart. Welcome. So, Jay has been with us for about twenty
four years. Michelle, 13 years with us. Jay is on his third expat assignment. Right? And on his first expat assignment, in Puerto Rico, he met Michelle, his wife, and, actually, they’re on their way to Mexico to
the next assignment where, it’s bringing you back to Mexico,
actually. Your second assignment was in Mexico. And they have two children. 12 and
six-year-old. Two sons, right? Alright, the next is Namrata, and Namrata, she’s here to my left.
And Namrata is 13 years a Walmart associate; first-generation
immigrant to the U.S.; originally from India. She is married to another Walmart associate
and they’re both in the fast-paced Walmart
technology organization. She’s a mother of two, of 12 and
nine-year-olds. Alright. So, welcome to the panelists,
please. (Applause) Alright, follow me here, guys okay? This is
going to be very interesting. Alright, can you hear me? Yes, we can. Wonderful. You can? Melinda, can you hear? Yes,
ma’am. Wonderful. Alright. Fawn, so the first
question is for you. Did you ever have that moment where it became
very clear to you at some point in your life that you had
to redefine and re-center based on that experience? Yeah, I love this question, because people who see my
Facebook page now seem to respond with one thing again and again, and it’s this: don’t you
ever work? And, the truth is that I used to be a hopeless workaholic when I was very
young. I went and rushed through college, and rushed through graduate school. I had
my Masters when I was 21, and I I went out to be a journalist, and I was so
aggressive, and just consumed by the news. It was
what I lived to do, and I did it day and night. And then I had a real turning point that I am so glad
happened when I was so young. I was 24 years old and I was working on a series, and at that
time, the newspaper was hit by a wage and hour lawsuit, and they told us we had to write down every
minute we work so that there was no uncompensated overtime. And I was
doing this series, and I said there’s so much. And, one night, it was 11:30 at night and one of
my friends came into the newsroom to pick up something she’d forgotten, and
and she looked at me and she goes “wow,” and I go “I know. Why am I still here?” And she looked, and she goes “because
your life is meaningless and this is all you have.” (Laughter) So then, then my boss, you know, I’m turning in all this stuff, and he says
“don’t forget to get your time card back and update it with Joyce.” So I go in, and get the executive assistant to
dig out my time card. Back in those days they were hard time cards, and I wrote down all my
hours, and it was more than eighty. I think it might have been even
86 or 87 hours. And she just looked at it like this, and
she goes “Gee, Fawn, is it really worth it?” and it was just like a light bulb went off right then it was such a pivotal experience for me, because I
thought to myself “No, it’s not. It’s not worth it to only
work, and have that one dimension in my life. And so, throughout my career as a journalist,
I wound up working at a number of guild papers, which were union, and you
had to to write your overtime down, but you also had a choice of taking over
time or comp time, and I always, always, always took the time, because that’s the
one thing I can tell you now as I’m a little bit older, is that you don’t get time back. You have one
shot on how you’re going to live your life.
So, it really is a matter of making choices that you’re
not going to regret later on. And because of those early experiences, I made pretty good choices. I was an avid cyclist, and I remember once, I
was working at the newspaper in Denver and it was, I was no slouch. That was one year that I got
nominated for the Pulitzer twice Okay? But my boss said to me “gosh, it seems like you like your bike more than
your job,” and I thought what’s wrong with that? There’s nothing wrong with having having a good, full life. You don’t owe an excuse to anybody, and I’ve always tried to live a life that
honors that. So, now I’m self-employed and, if it’s a good day, I might say “okay, I’m going to cut out and go to the beach,”
because it’s five minutes from my house. I’ll run to the beach, and I might work late. Or I might not work
that night. and its been a lot of balance. Now, on the other hand, there are times when
I work very, very hard. Like today, you know, I’ve got two speeches, and
I’m releasing my eighth book. Woo hoo, right? I do something sometimes, but I, I learned how important these choices are when I was 32 years old, and my mom, who was in her early sixties, had
a massive, paralyzing stroke. Now, I don’t want you all
getting down and sad, because my mother faced it, and she was just strong and
inspiring, and I loved that woman so much. But, it taught me that life is really fragile. You never know what’s in front
of you, or what you have, and the one thing that I do know is that if my life were to end tomorrow, I would
have no regrets, and so when time is limited for you, like I know it is for so many of
you, at least take time to say “oh, it’s time
for sunset. I’m gonna go outside and look at the sky.” Or just breathe in some fresh air. Be
mindful when you’re with your children, so that
you have a life. You’re not your job. You are a whole
person. So live that as full and as completely
as you possibly can. That’s great. (Applause) Thank you, Fawn, and I’m glad your mom is
doing well. And this is really interesting. This is the first time that she’s been
interviewed. She usually is the one that interviewing. So, I’m
like “okay, this is great. I’m gonna be in the driver’s seat now.” Right? How does it
feel? Well, you know, I’ve got to say, what’s so
amazing is to see Aida Alvarez up there, who is somebody that I
interviewed for my first book, and who, she probably doesn’t remember this,
but that woman was good to me. She’s a good human being.
So, I love this event on so many levels. It’s great to be here
She remembers, Fawn. So, Melinda, the same question now for you.
Did you ever have that moment where it became clear that your life was being
defined by your work, and what did you re-center, and what did you
prioritize? I did, and when when it became clear to me, it was in
2004. My dad passed away unexpectedly, and I
needed to really refocus and balance. My mom
needed me probably more than she ever had, and so I took a brief leave of absence from
work, and when I came back, I worked in the
policy area for the company, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to work until 8 or 9
o’clock at night. I was married at the time, and you know, my husband didn’t have an issue
with the hours that I worked, but when I came back from work my mom really
needed, needed me to help her with a lot of things. So, when I came back from my leave, I
really cut back on the hours that I was working, and so that I could focus on my family, more of
an extended family. And the way that I looked for balance and, and focus from a family
perspective was I looked to delegate more to my team, because we all try to
make sure that we have a great team, and I did have a great team. But, delegation was not one of my strong
suits, so I tried to make sure that I delegated
more, and directed work, really, to areas that that they needed to be directed to. So,
where there are centers of excellence that that work needed to be going to. So that was
one thing that I focused on. And then another area that I
really tried to focus on was, when customers called in, rather than
just giving the answer you know, right off the bat, it’s always
much quicker just to immediately give an answer, rather than training the customer who’s calling. It’s so much faster just to say
“here’s the answer,” and then get the customer you know, off the phone. But, I focused on
helping them find the answer so that they wouldn’t just immediately call back the next time. So
those were some things that I did to kind of balance my work at that point, and that served me well for the future when I
became a single mom later on in life. Because
obviously, like Doug said, you know, I need to
be present for my daughter now as her only parent, if I’m not present
now, then Child Protective Services is gonna come after me,
right? So, I need to make sure that I’m present for her, because I’m the only person
who’s going to be present So, I make sure that when I’m at home
with her, I’m really present, because she’s
going to be four tomorrow, and she understands, you know, if she’s talking to
me, and I pick up my phone, you know, now she knows to say “put your phone down, mama.” So, you know, I’ve and make sure
that that I’m present for her, and when I’m at work, I’m at work, so I try to be productive and present when I’m at work, present
at home. So, those those things are really important for me. From a life work integration
perspective, I want to make sure that I support that for my team. What I need for myself is not
gonna be the same as what my team needs. And I want to make sure that I model
good behavior for my team, and they know what they need. And then, from a
leadership perspective I always want to make sure that I’m
modeling for my team and my mentees that it’s not just a working mother
thing. It’s not just a female thing. Men need balance in their lives. Single
associates need balance in their lives, so make sure that everybody
understands that this is, this is for all Associates. It’s great to have a good supervisor. I
have a wonderful supervisor who understands
good work-life integration, so all of that is is critical, and
achieving balance in your work, so those are some of the things
that I do. Great. Thank you, Melinda for sharing some
great learnings there. And, as Michelle said earlier in the program, please make sure you take notes, right? Because this is about, you know,
taking away and learning from here, and then applying that going forward, and we’re gonna do a little exercise
later, so I want to make sure that you guys are taking away some really good insights
that these great panelists are sharing with us. So, Jay and Michelle, I want you to interact in this particular, in this question
here, and the question is: tell us about your
positive work goals, and how they coexist with your personal goals. Please. It’s so different, because he’s usually behind the screen when we talk. We live via FaceTime. Thank goodness about technology. I think, for us, it has been quite
a journey right? We have moved together. We have built our
life together, and Walmart has always be there,
right, for us in one way or the other, and we have been very fortunate to
work for a very great, flexible company where we actually
can manage both work-life balance, right? And I think for
us it has been key, as we have moved countries, and
created our own family. So it has been a great, we have
been very fortunate to have that, and I think I had a moment where, it was
probably, I don’t know, eight years ago, when our oldest
was probably about four, and it was like a
Mother’s Day type activity, and I was late for five
minutes because I was running from a meeting, but I needed to make it
to the Mothers Day event, and he was in the corner crying.
Desperately, like all tears. I’m like “oh my gosh, what happened here?” And I will never forget that, and that’s when
I said and I know that our kids are what’s very important, but we said
this is our priority, and there was no missing any
opportunities, and at times we have been where he has gone to the Mother’s Day because
I’m traveling, and I have gone to the Father’s Day because he’s traveling. But, I get more credit
for going to the Father’s Day more than what he does the Mother’s Day. ‘Cause I was out, travelling. But I think being our kids the center, and what drives us every day, I think
it has helped us understand where do we need to work
together? We partner a lot. We have our routine, so it will be
very interesting once we move to Mexico to see how we start that all over
again, right? Because it’s a different setting. But we’re excited about that, but I think
it has been it has been great. (Laughter) You think so? That was a big question mark, wasn’t it? It has been great. Almost fourteen years great. It’s great. I think it’s one of those where we’ve definitely evolved into it. So, when we got married and moved
to Mexico from Puerto Rico for an opportunity that I had to
work there, and Michelle spent about a month in the
house, and was done. So, she began to work with Walmex at
that point in time as well, and so we’ve kind of always, ever since we’ve been married,
had the dual the dual responsibility from a work
perspective. And then our oldest was born while we
were in Mexico City as well, and so we’ve evolved into this, and it really is a
situation where you know, people say you live to work
or you work to live. Work is just a part of life, and we juggle it
as such. We do what we need to do to utilize
work to teach our kids responsibility in that you, things don’t come for free, and that you
have to work for what you want, whether that be inside of the office,
or on the soccer field or in band, wherever that case may be. And, so we
try to utilize the fact that we have been
successful at Walmart to teach our kids. This opportunity
that we have to go to go back to Mexico, our kids are old
enough to really understand that it’s an opportunity for them as
well, and so we worked very hard to make sure that they got to go and see Mexico as well. We showed them the
schools. We practiced with the local soccer club, and we show them all of
the things that they could benefit from with this
opportunity, also. And, so it’s always a meeting of
the minds. It’s not one or the other. It’s always a discussion, and it’s always, I don’t wanna say negotiation, but we
certainly need to understand the unintended consequences between the decisions that we make and everybody
that’s involved. Well, great teamwork. Thank you, Jay and Michelle. And good luck. I know you’re on your way
to Mexico now in July. I believe you’ve been going back and forth, but Mexico’s getting a great couple, so
thank you very much again for, for participating. Namrata, I’m going to
you now. How are you? Good. Excellent, excellent.
Well, listen, the question is what advice would you give to young
professional who is extremely eager to make it or
rise to the top? Thank you for the question,
Carmen. Quite honestly, I’ve been one of those, so I want to give you a little bit of
context about where I’m coming from before I actually move forward and answer the question. So 2014 has been a
very interesting year for our family. I fought cancer. My husband and I became
the primary caretakers for his parents, and we moved them from India
to United States. And my older daughter is knocking on the
doors of teenage. So, really, talking on this topic is like
therapy to me. So, moving into the advice itself, I have two pieces. The first one in my
mind is the more important one. This is a conversation that one of my
mentors had with me, and I tried to have this conversation
with many others that come to me. Do yourself a favor. Think about and write down what success really means
to you, because it’s different for different
people, and to be totally honest in my opinion the person who
dies the richest is not always the most successful or
the happiest. Having said that, if professional success is what gives you joy, then at a minimum
you’ve thought about it, and you’re making intentional decisions.
So that’s my first advice. Moving to the second one, I would
encourage you to not compartmentalize work and life. Try to weave them
together, because you’re one person. And you will notice as you’re able to create those synergies,
you will be a better leader both at home and at work. I do want to
close by saying that work-life integration is a very
difficult art to master. I don’t know if anybody
can claim that they have it all figured out. So don’t hesitate in making course
correction without beating yourself up too much. So, that’s my advice, Carmen. Well, thank
you very much Namrata. We appreciate it. Some really great thoughts. Great learnings here. And I know we’re running a little bit over, but does it, panelists, do you have any other comments
for the audience that you will like to make? Any final points? (Namrata) I would like to add something. Go ahead, Namrata, and then I’ll turn it over to you. Go ahead.
If you’re experiencing burnout, or if you’re at a place where you need
to re-center to your priorities, ask for help. You will be surprised with
how much support our company surrounds us with, and like
Doug said, if you don’t get the support, send him an email. That’s great. Fawn, go ahead. Yeah, my last point would be own your calendar, because you own your
time. All it takes is one crisis for you to suddenly realize that everything else falls by the wayside and you can make time. That, if you have a
doctor’s appointment, you somehow make it to that. And, if you
have to get your hair done, you end up going and doing that. Write in time on your calendar for the things
that matter most to you, so that you know what you value, and you honor your values
with your time Right. Just one last point. Similar to Namrata, I think there’s a
perception sometimes that the company won’t allow you to. But always ask. I think we have
been very fortunate. I’m here right now,
yet my job is in Mexico. The company understands that the kids
will be in school for another few months, and so I am traveling back and forth. They don’t have an issue with it because
we asked. We discussed it, and we worked out the details of the transition. And so the company is
very reasonable, and very understanding in those circumstances as long
as you ask, and as long as you have the discussion. Great. Thank you very much. Melinda,
anything for you? I think my final point would be be, I overheard some some conversation
one-time from an applicant who had asked about flex-time, and the manager who
was interviewing her, after the interview took place, the
comment that the manager said was you know, I don’t know why she’s asking
about “not working” during her interview, and and I think what the challenge I would
give to some of our leaders who still have that mindset is when someone asks about flex-time or anything that deals with life balance
that that doesn’t mean they’re not going to
be working. It means they’re talking about working in a different way, and so just broaden your mindset.
It’s not it’s not about not working, it’s about
working differently. So that, that would be my challenge to leaders of the company. (applause) One last comment for me would be whatever you do make it count. I think
always find your true north. Never forget what you’re doing things for, or for who, and if it doesn’t add any value to your
life, just remove it, because what’s the point of
doing that. So just always make it count as well. Thank you so much. Great points, and help
me thank the panelists. Thank you very much. Aida, thank you very
much.

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