Over 400 members of the industry turned up to hear Shelley Broader, Walmart president and CEO, speak at the leadership breakfast organized by the Network of Executive Women Canada in Mississauga on Wednesday.
Broader provided an engaging keynote presentation on her career and support behind the NEW Canada organization, which focuses on inclusion and attracting and retaining the best people possible in the consumer packaged goods and retail sectors.
She shared with the audience some secrets to her success, having worked with Hannaford Bros, Michaels and Sam’s Club prior to joining Walmart.
A pivotal move in Broader's career was leaving the food industry for Michaels, an arts and crafts specialist that has stores in the U.S. and Canada. That move gave her a more complex knowledge of scope and scale.
Some key advice Broader offered:
“Your life finds you”: Broader’s mom said that to her when she was a young woman just starting her career. Broader wanted to be a broadcast journalist but then segued to finance, and eventually retailing.
“I’m a coordinator of experts”: Broader said her job is about surrounding herself with talented people and turning their ideas and expertise into strategy.
“Realize your skills are transferable”: People often sell themselves short in their ability to move around in organizations, said Broader.
During the Q&A session, Broader was asked by Retail Council of Canada’s CEO Diane Brisebois, how are Canadian consumers different than their American counterparts. Broader said that she learned while at Michaels that there’s a misconception that Canada is the 51st state.
The gap between the poorest and richest is much smaller in Canada, she said. “There’s an awesome inclusiveness here,” she noted, pointing to the fact that consumers can shop at No Frills, Walmart and Whole Foods and there’s no stigma attached. “Everyone has the right to be everywhere and shop everywhere.”
She also noted that Canadian consumers are more earnest and honest in their statements such as “eating healthy is important to me”.
When asked if she felt there was a glass ceiling that still exists, Broader said she sees them more as glass “umbrellas” as in some corporations it might be more difficult for women to succeed. Her advice? Given the current marketplace that is much different than 10 years ago, Broader said women should work for companies that appreciate you.
Other news from the event was that Michelle Hardinge, Walmart’s senior VP Ontario operations will be co-chair of NEW Canada (taking over from Michelle Scott of The Grocery Foundation who will be in charge of succession planning.)
For more information on NEW Canada go to: newonline.org