Learning To Lead

Career Path

Art Gardea shares 5 tips for growing a career at Walmart.

When Art Gardea, the assistant general manager at high-volume Distribution Center 6064 in Cleburne, Texas, joined Walmart in 1999 after six years in the military, he discovered a new type of leadership.

“I had some leadership experience coming out of the military, but Walmart is a little bit different,” he explains. “Some leadership principles might be similar, but the way you lead is different. And so I was learning the culture, how to lead within the Walmart culture.”  

Art started out as a frozen dairy deli order filler at the distribution center in Temple, Texas. After a year, he was promoted to his first supervisory position. He later moved to Los Lunas, New Mexico, for a few years before moving back to Temple. He eventually joined the HVDC in Cleburne in 2018.

In 2022, Art was asked to take part in Walmart’s “The Floor is Not the Ceiling” video campaign, which highlights the career paths of Walmart associates who have risen from hourly associates to leadership positions. Filming the FNC campaign was a “great time.”  

“It was really, really good to connect with people outside of supply chain,” Art shares. “They speak a different language than supply chain speaks. So it was interesting to get to know people from a different business side of Walmart, to understand what makes them tick and listen to their stories.” 

Walmart World asked Art to share his insights on growing a career at Walmart. Here’s what he had to say: 

  • Learn from the people alongside you as well as the people above you. “I couldn't have gotten to where I am today without the mentorship, without the relationships, without the people that I've met along the way that have guided me,” Art says. “You don't always learn from those above you, or those who you report to. Oftentimes, you learn so much from those who work for you or work alongside you.” 
  • Look for opportunities to grow. “There's a lot of opportunity to learn new things,” Art says, noting that Walmart and Sam’s Club make it possible for people to relocate to other parts of the country or to other parts of the business. “There's a lot of opportunity that Walmart presents for whatever it is that you aspire to be. It's just a matter of looking forward, doing your research.”
  • Never stop learning. Art is enrolled in college through Live Better U and plans to earn a degree in business management. “I'm going on 50 years old, and so I could say, ‘well, my college time has come and gone,’ but realistically, there's just so much to continue to learn!”
  • Embrace challenges. “What I love about my job is the day-to-day challenges,” Art says. “It may not be every day, but it may be something that we need to overcome next week. What’s the planning and what's the approach? What's the impact on the associates? What's the impact on the business? The fulfilling piece for me is having those challenges and overcoming those challenges.”
  • Give everyone a voice. When facing challenges, Art says he gets feedback and learns how a decision is going to impact different people. “When we do make whatever that change might be, then the buy-in is there from the different levels, because people had a say in the approach,” he says.

“I bleed Walmart blue,” Art confesses. “This has become beyond a career. This has really almost become a home. It's a family.”